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1 in 3 Women Live with Stress Urinary Incontinence

  • Published: 2011-05-16 : Author: American Urological Association Foundation
  • Synopsis: An estimated one in three women experience stress urinary incontinence (SUI) a condition characterized by involuntary loss of urine due to forces on the bladder.

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A Staggering One in Three Women Live with Stress Urinary Incontinence, Fear of Stigma Limits Discussion with Doctor.

An estimated one in three women experience stress urinary incontinence (SUI), a condition characterized by involuntary loss of urine due to forces on the bladder caused by physical movement of the body. Although SUI can interfere with quality of life, it is often left untreated due to the personal nature of its symptoms which leave women feeling embarrassed about their bodies and hesitant to discuss or report their urinary leakage. To bridge this communication gap, the American Urological Association (AUA) Foundation issued a new Monograph today to encourage women and their healthcare providers to have open discussions about SUI, and to empower women to make lifestyle changes to decrease their risk of this condition and understand that they are not alone if they have SUI.

The Monograph, titled "Stress Urinary Incontinence: Monograph from the AUA Foundation," provides a breadth of information about SUI, including symptoms, risk factors, prevalence and common myths associated with the condition. By making this important information accessible to the public, the AUA Foundation is committed to advancing the understanding of SUI, reducing the stigma associated with its symptoms and stimulating women to seek treatment.

"The prevalence of SUI is jaw-dropping and costs society an estimated $8 billion annually,(1) yet similar to the subject of erectile dysfunction, it is still not openly discussed in public and even among some healthcare providers," stated AUA Foundation Executive Director Sandra Vassos, MPH. "The information presented in the Monograph is intended to help women recognize that SUI is more common than they may think, and to encourage them to open up about their experiences with SUI as a means to better understand the condition."

Symptoms of SUI vary widely from light to heavy leakage which may occur during rigorous activity or natural reflexes, such as playing sports or coughing; but in more severe cases, leakage may occur due to low impact movements, such as standing up, walking or bending over. Because these symptoms often lead to feelings of isolation, they may interfere with women's day-to-day activities, impact their relationships, and prevent them from opening up about their condition. As a result, many women with SUI may miss important opportunities to learn more about SUI and manage its symptoms.

The new Monograph highlights ways to prevent or manage the symptoms of SUI, including lifestyle changes, urinary control devices or surgery. Some women are only bothered by heavy or large amounts of leakage, whereas others are bothered by any leakage. Women often manage SUI by using mini pads, sanitary pads or incontinence pads.

Also outlined in the Monograph is information about certain risk factors associated with SUI that, once understood, may help to prevent the incidence of SUI in some women. For instance, overweight and obese women are more prone to SUI, and evidence shows that weight loss may improve urinary incontinence in obese women. Therefore, it is important for women with SUI to maintain a healthy weight.

The full Monograph can be accessed at Additionally, the "It's Time to Talk about SUI" campaign includes informative resources about SUI, patient and physician materials and an online interactive assessment tool specifically for SUI, which can be found at The campaign's resources are made possible by a grant from the Poise® and Depend® brands.

About "It's Time to Talk About SUI" Campaign and "Stress Urinary Incontinence: Monograph From The AUA Foundation" -In an effort to eliminate the stigma associated with SUI and provide facts about the condition, the AUA Foundation assembled an independent panel of female urologists and healthcare professionals in the spring of 2011. These individuals volunteered to review scientific information and clinical guidelines and share their professional experiences concerning SUI as the basis for the AUA Foundation's "It's Time to Talk About SUI" campaign.

About "Urology for Women Initiative" -The AUA Foundation recently launched the "Urology for Women Initiative" to bring greater focus to the urology needs of women and help provide them with the vital information about what urological conditions affect women - from urinary tract infections, over-active bladder, yeast infections and stress urinary incontinence to various forms of cancer - as well as how they affect women and what are the most current treatments for the conditions.

About the American Urological Association (AUA) Foundation -The AUA Foundation is the world's leading non-profit urological health organization and the official foundation of the American Urological Association. Their goal is to promote health, provide hope and promise a future free of urological disease.

References:1. Hu TW. The economic impact of urinary incontinence. Clin Geriatr Med. 1986 Nov;2(4):673-87

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