Sometimes on referrals for pelvic floor physical therapy, patients will see the shorthand “SUI” and wonder, what the heck it is and if it can be fixed. Wonder no more! Today, we’ll take a deeper dive into SUI which stands for stress urinary incontinence.
What is stress urinary incontinence (SUI)?
Stress Urinary Incontinence is leakage that occurs in response to stress (pressure) on the bladder. It typically occurs with coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, lifting and/or transitional movements like going from sitting to standing. SUI affects men and women.
Why does SUI occur?
Sui occurs due to 3 main forms of dysfunction in the pelvic floor and usually, patients present with a combination of one or more.
- Weakness in the pelvic floor causes an inability for the pelvic floor muscles to support the bladder and an increase in pressure (we usually see this immediately postpartum).
- Tightness in the pelvic floorprevents full movement, so the pelvic floor can’t activate appropriately to support the bladder when needed.
- Lack of coordination in the pelvic floor leads to pressure management problems where there is bearing down or relaxation of the pelvic floor instead of a contract and lift.
Other contributing factors that can influence leakage are:
- Bladder irritants (caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, citrus, spicy foods etc)
- Pelvic organ prolapse (bladder, uterine, rectocele)
- Scar tissue from abdominal surgery(ies) such as a c-section, abdominoplasty, organ removal, laparoscopy, etc.
- Radiation over/surgery on the prostate
- Low back/hip pain
- Not drinking enough water (plain waiter, fizzy water doesn’t count!)
So how can Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy help disentangle this issue that can have many intertwining causes and contributing factors?
Pelvic Floor Specialists will…
- Perform a thorough assessment to determine the root cause of the leakage–We will NOT just prescribe kegels and send you on your way. Depending on the cause of your leakage, kegels could actually make it markedly worse.
- Teach you how to lengthen and relax your pelvic floor and your abdominals because you need a full range of motion to work with!
- Help you address restrictions in other areas that could be impacting the pelvic floor such as the abdominals, hips, pelvis, back, inner thighs, and diaphragm.
- Guide you to retrain your breathing strategies, lifting mechanics, toileting strategies/habits.
- Discuss fluid intake, bladder health, nutrition, and constipation.
- Work to improve your single-leg stability/strength, your glute strength, core strength, and functional pelvic floor strength!
- Recommend any supportive devices or supplements that can help.
Overall, addressing and FIXING stress urinary incontinence so it is resolved requires a multifaceted approach. Kegels are rarely the answer. We have to look at it from a full-body, full-person perspective in order to get results.
If you have been struggling with stress urinary incontinence, whether you’re a student athlete or a mom of 6 or anywhere in between, WE. HAVE. GOT YOU ❤ Schedule your FREE 10-minute consult call today ✨
Be empowered in education,
OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy