- Are you visiting the toilet more than once every couple of hours or during the night?
- Do you leak urine when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercize?
- Do you wear or have you ever worn a pad for urine leakage?
- Did you have urinary leakage during pregnancy or postpartum?
- Do you ever have sudden, compelling need to pass urine that you can’t hold?
- Do you have difficulty initiating or emptying your bladder?
- Do you have pain in your vaginal or abdominal area?
- Do you feel unusual pressure in your vaginal area?
- Do you have recurrent urinary tract infections?
- Do your bladder problems affect your lifestyle?
- Are you afraid of leaving home due to bladder problems?
- Do you have a bulge or something protruding vaginally at times?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, your problem might be Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). The National Association for Continence reports that as many as one in four women over age 18 has episodes of leaking urine involuntarily. Often, women first experience SUI after they become moms.
And women wait an average of 6 ½ years after first experiencing symptoms before they discuss the issue with a doctor and seek treatment.
“Many women fail to seek help for urinary incontinence because they are embarrassed and expect that this is a natural part of the aging process,” says Oneeka Williams, M.D., a urologist with St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. “They feel isolated in their experience. Most women are not aware that there are fairly simple interventions that can improve their leakage and are intimidated by the thought of having surgery.” Treatment options include bladder training, dietary modification, drug therapy and surgery.
Williams, who authored the above quiz, says that some patients wrongly believe that their problem is trivial and cosmetic, rather than medical, and so think treatment won’t be covered by their insurance. And, covered or not, this isn’t a problem women often discuss. “I have had many of the patients upon whom I operate marvel at the fact that almost all of their friends are having the same problems but never felt comfortable sharing,” Williams says. “They openly admitted their incontinence issues only after they discovered what surgical procedure the patient had undergone.”
For more information on SUI, check out this resource from the National Institutes of Health.