This type of incontinence is characterised by the loss of urine due to an increase in intraabdominal pressure (for example; coughing, sneezing, laughing, physical exercise). In some women, this can also happen when standing up, walking or heavy lifting. Childbirth, age, menopause, obesity, pelvic surgery, pelvic radiations, coughing, chronic constipation, high impact sport and chronic heavy labour are all related.
It’s almost always due to a change in the structures that surround the urethra (urethra: a tube that connects the bladder to outside of the body). These structures are: the sphincter muscle of the urethra, pelvic floor muscles and ligaments that provide stability, support and compression, ensuring urinary continence.
When the deficit is in the support, the increase in abdominal pressure (coughing) impacts the bladder and the urethra opens, allowing the urine to escape.
When the deficit is in the sphincter muscle of the urethra, the urethra remains open and the urine escapes.
This weakness or rupture of the muscles and/or ligaments that sustain the urethra can occur with or without weakness in the other segments of the pelvic floor.