Stress Incontinence

Related Information

After Pubovaginal Sling Surgery

UW Health's urology program provides treatment for patients with stress incontinence.
Stress incontinence is characterized by urine leakage that happens with coughing, laughing, exercising or other vigorous activities. Leakage results from increased pressure on the bladder, causing urine to leak across a weakened sphincter. Stress incontinence and overactive bladder (OAB) are the most common bladder problems.
Stress incontinence affects about 40 percent of women by age 40, but some experience only an occasional problem. In many women, however, the leakage is severe enough or frequent enough to cause significant problems.
For stress incontinence, medication and exercise may help, but surgery remains the most effective treatment. The problem in stress incontinence is not weak muscles, but weakened ligaments that support the bladder. The ligaments are usually weakened by pregnancy, childbirth and aging - but they can be surgically repaired.
Surgical options available in the UW Health Urology Clinic include the pubovaginal sling, a procedure in which a tissue graft from the patient's own body is used to replace the weakened and stretched ligaments. The procedure requires a two- to three-week recovery, but its proven long-term success rate often tops other surgical options.