Does stress incontinence cause infertility? Do you uncontrollably pee in your pants after laughing or coughing? Are you always looking for the nearest bathroom wherever you go in case of “little accidents?” Then you may be suffering from stress incontinence. Although it may sound like it, this condition isn’t triggered by psychological stress. Rather, it occurs when typical body movements cause pressure (or stress)on the abdominal area.
Stress incontinence can cause embarrassment even to the point that sufferers may want to withdraw from being with others. And this isn’t just a social health dilemma. It can indicate more serious underlying medical conditions. One commonly asked question is if it can cause infertility. This article seeks to clarify the connection between stress incontinence and infertility.
Let’s get straight to the point. Does Stress Incontinence Cause Infertility? Stress incontinence does not directly cause infertility. However, like other types of incontinence, it is closely associated with sexual dysfunctions.
For example, studies comparing women with similar levels of sexual activity show that the incontinent ones were more likely to abstain from sex versus those who didn’t have the condition. Also, those with urinary incontinence had less sexual desire, had less interest in foreplay, and were less sexually satisfied and comfortable in the act.
In women, the lack of sexual desire can trigger the inability to achieve orgasm and a dry vagina. It can also bring about tension that may inhibit sexual intimacy and intercourse. In addition, in one study, older women reportedly had low self-evaluations of their health and had a higher incidence of depression, negatively impacting overall sexual wellbeing.
Although stress incontinence is more common in women, men can also have this condition. The resulting lack of sexual interest can lead to the inability to sustain an erection and retarded or premature ejaculation. Both males and females can experience a low sexual drive and even pain during coitus.
The causes of stress incontinence differ from that of UUI or urgency urinary incontinence (an overactive bladder) or overflow incontinence (from urine hyperproduction). Instead, as mentioned earlier, it is caused by movement or activities that apply heavy pressure on the abdominal area. Examples of such physical exertions are commonplace activities like laughing, coughing, or coughing. Lifting weights can also cause you to discharge urine accidentally. Yet not everyone experiences the same leakage problem when they do strength training or get into hysterics over someone’s joke.
Several contributing factors make certain people more susceptible to the condition than others. For example, you may have a problem with the external sphincter muscle near your bladder neck. This ring-shaped muscle relaxes or tightens to open or close your bladder, helping you control the flow of urine from the latter to your urethra. If you were to liken your bladder to a dam, its external sphincter muscle is the floodgate keeper.
In women, weak pelvic floor muscles can also give way to stress incontinence. In women, the heavy strain of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth can overtax these muscles. Urethra problems, pelvic surgery, and age-related physical changes such as menopause may also cause the pelvic muscles to give way. When this happens, the bladder descends to a position that keeps the urethra from closing thoroughly, causing uncontrollable urination.
Men typically have overactive bladder incontinence more than stress incontinence. But they can also experience stress incontinence due to male fertility and lifestyle factors. For instance, smoking tobacco can trigger chronic coughing, putting tremendous pressure on the abdomen and bladder. This can cause unintentional leaks. Having excess body weight can also increase pressure on your abdominal area. On top of that, it can also damage your pelvic floor and urethral structures.
Although incontinence during sex isn’t a common occurrence for men, it can happen due to prostate cancer treatment. A common one is radical prostatectomy, which removes the entire prostate gland. While this kind of surgery is effective, it can give rise to the side effect of incontinence. Prostate cancer is so prevalent among men that the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 10% will have the disease in their lifetime.
Although not all stress incontinence cases are preventable, there may be some ways to address or alleviate them.
One effective way is to manage your fluids and diet. Alcohol doesn’t automatically cause incontinence, especially when taken in minute amounts and infrequently. However, an occasional drink does not benefit stress incontinence in any way. Alcohol dehydrates you, making you parched and drink more water. This extra activity causes your bladder to go into overdrive in urine production.
Also, avoid certain foods that can irritate the bladder, such as corn syrup, spicy dishes, and milk and milk products. Eating acidic fruits like oranges and limes may also induce incontinence. Other dietary irritants are coffee and carbonated drinks. However, not everyone gets urinary problems from everything on this list. To determine a dietary plan that works for you, keep a food journal to note which ones trigger your incontinence.
Bladder training can also go a long way in helping you control your urine flow better. Try to hold the bladder in whenever you feel like urinating. Postpone going to the bathroom for ten minutes, increasing the length of intervals as you go along. Bladder training helps strengthen the connection between your brain and bladder, allowing you better control over the latter.
Since weak pelvic muscles can cause incontinence, a clear solution is to strengthen them. Kegel exercises are a natural and effective way to help you control bladder leaks. This physical activity strengthens the pelvic floor muscles through cyclical squeezing and relaxing.
Other lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and exercising more can also help improve your incontinence. Dropping the nicotine means fewer coughing fits that put pressure on your bladder. On the other hand, less body weight diminishes the unnecessary strain on your abdominal area.
Lastly, incontinence underwear for men and women can vastly enhance your quality of life (even while receiving medical attention for any underlying condition).
If stress incontinence impacts your reproductive health, you may want to check out Art Compass. This innovative fertility app provides everything from in-house proficiency testing to reagent/ disposable lot number tracking. Learn more about how you can manage and treat infertility today with Art Compass.