Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is urine leakage that occurs with coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting a heavy object or other physical activity. In severe instances, leakage can happen from simply standing up or bending over.
SUI severity ranges from occasional light leakage – where drops of urine are released – to more disruptive leak episodes that can saturate clothing and cause embarrassment.
SUI affects approximately 17% (15 million) women in the United States, and 150 million worldwide.
Approximately 1 in 3 women will suffer from SUI during their lives.
SUI affects 33% of women by the age of 60, and 50% of women age 65 and above. The U.S. market – already $8 billion – will continue to grow as the female population ages.
How is SUI managed?
Absorbent products. While 90% of affected women manage SUI with absorbent products, 85% want an alternative so they can more comfortably engage in activities outside of the home.
Lifestyle changes. Weight reduction, smoking cessation and pelvic floor exercises can sometimes help, but depend on adherence to the programs.
Vaginal pessaries. Bulky, difficult to insert and remove, and requiring regular cleaning, these removable devices provide more support to the bladder than the urethra, where support is most important.
Injections. Collagen injections around the urethra can help, but results may not be permanent.
Surgery. Surgical placement of a sling between the urethra and lower vagina has realized some success, but is an invasive and expensive procedure fraught with the possibility of complications (infection, pelvic pain, erosion into the vagina, injury to nearby organs).