Urology Blog

What Are the Main Causes of Stress Incontinence?

Hands asian woman holding her crotchStress incontinence is a particular onset of incontinence, where physical activity causes the involuntary loss of bladder control. It doesn’t have any relation to stress psychologically.

Medical Cause

Stress incontinence happens because of the weakening of the muscles around the bladder to hold back urine. 

The urinary sphincter and other muscles around the pelvic floor can usually retain urine as the bladder expands. If they weaken, any pressure put on them with the exertion of the pelvic or even abdominal muscles will sometimes cause involuntary urination.


Certain large-scale activities like lifting heavy objects, exercising or even just bending over can make a person prone to loss of bladder control from stress incontinence. Involuntary actions like coughing, laughing or sneezing can also strain the pelvic floor muscles, leading to involuntary urination.  

These actions won’t always result in incontinence, especially if the bladder is empty. If you regularly urinate involuntarily, you should see a doctor.


There may be some physiological causes that are more likely to result in incontinence, including one’s advanced age or being overweight. 

Likewise, surgeries around one’s pelvis will weaken the surrounding muscles and pose a risk of bringing about incontinence. 

The increased risk is true for men, especially with enlarged prostates or after prostate surgery, or with women after they give birth via the birth canal. Moreover, women who gave birth with the help of forceps have a higher chance of incontinence, but not all other procedures will see this increased likelihood. 

Chronic coughing, or anything that will cause such coughing such as cigarette smoke, will also exacerbate incontinence because it strains the pelvic floor muscles in a frequent, harsh way. 

Associated Risks

Incontinence by itself can have lots of causes but is not usually harmful. It can, however, cause skin rashes or other irritation. That is bad for the skin, and you should treat it quickly. It may also be emotionally taxing. 


If you’re concerned with instances of stress incontinence or have these symptoms, schedule an appointment now. Anyone in the Chattanooga area can reach out to UT Urology at 423-778-5910 or online at

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