Treatment Options for Stress Urinary Incontinence

“Women with severe urinary incontinence pay $900 annually for routine incontinence care.” 1

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Stress Urinary Incontinence

Pads and Protective Undergarments

When women first start to experience bladder leakage, often the first option they look at is liners or pads.

Many women feel they can manage their day-to-day bladder leakage with liners, pads, disposable or reusable underwear. While pads do provide some degree of protection and discreet management, they do not try to improve your bladder function, unlike other treatment options.

Lifestyle Changes

Before or in conjunction with other treatment options, a specialist will often suggest lifestyle changes to help decrease bladder leakage:

  • Lose weight: Carrying extra weight can have an impact on bladder leakage. You may benefit from losing even a small amount of weight.
  • Manage your fluid intake: If you find that you experience bladder leakage at night or in the morning, reducing the amount of liquid before bed could help. Limiting caffeine and alcohol can also be beneficial.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises and Biofeedback

Bladder leakage in stress urinary incontinence is most often due to the weakening of the pelvic muscles and tissue that normally support the bladder, actively strengthening the pelvic muscles may help lessen your symptoms. Read about Tina’s experience with Kegels on
  • Physical Therapy: Going to see a pelvic floor physical therapist is the first step to creating a plan to strengthen your pelvic muscles. After performing an exam, the physical therapist will provide guidance on a treatment plan to help you regain pelvic floor function.
  • Kegels: Kegels are an exercise you can do on your own to help strengthen your pelvic muscles.
  • Biofeedback: As pelvic muscles are hidden from view; it can be hard to determine if you are doing Kegels correctly. Biofeedback can be used to offer real-time feedback to show when you have targeted the correct muscles during physical therapy exercises, such as Kegels.


A pessary is a small plastic device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the vaginal walls and provide lift to the bladder and urethra. Pessaries are available in a variety of sizes. Your provider will provide instructions on inserting and removing the device. To ensure you receive a pessary that is fitted correctly, it’s important to see a specialist who can provide guidance on what size is right for your body. Read Carol’s telling story regarding pessary devices here on


While there are [prescription] medications that can help reduce the symptoms of bladder leakage, medication currently only treats urge urinary Incontinence and overactive bladder. If you are suffering from mixed urinary incontinence (a combination of stress and urge incontinence), you may benefit from using medication for urge incontinence. However, you may need additional treatments to decrease bladder leakage related to stress urinary incontinence.

Surgical Treatment Options for Stress Urinary Incontinence

If non-surgical options have not solved your stress urinary incontinence, it may be time to consider a more permanent surgical solution.2 One surgical option your doctor may recommend is a sling procedure.

A sling procedure corrects stress urinary incontinence by supporting your urethra to keep it in its correct position.3 The operation is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery.2,3 A sling corrects bladder leakage, or stress incontinence, by providing support to the bladder neck and urethra. After a sling procedure, most women can regain better control of their bladder.4 It is important to know that future pregnancies may negate the effects of the surgical sling procedure and you may once again become incontinent.5

There are different types of sling procedures, including a Transobturator, a Suprapubic, a Retropublic and a Single Incision— each of which implants the device using a different method or approach. Your doctor will discuss the differences and which type of procedure might be best for you.2 Know what questions to ask your doctor with this list here on

“In a recent study, 113 women had the Altis® sling implanted, and after two years: 90.4% of women state they are “much better” or “very much better” than they were before” 4

FAQs: Stress Urinary Incontinence

We’ve compiled some of the most common questions that women ask when learning about stress urinary incontinence. Read for yourself to learn more about stress urinary incontinence causes, symptoms and treatment options.

What are the treatment options for stress urinary incontinence?

Treatment options for stress urinary incontinence range from the day-to-day management of symptoms to surgical treatments that provide a permanent solution.2 Examples of non-surgical options include wearing pads or absorbent undergarments or improving pelvic strength through muscle exercises. Find out more on non-surgical treatments at Surgical treatments include stress incontinence surgery that utilizes either your own tissue or a synthetic sling to support the urethra to help you regain bladder control. Your doctor can discuss these options to determine the best choice for you.6

What is a stress incontinence surgery?

Stress incontinence surgery may be approached in different ways. In some cases, the surgeon may use your own tissue to correct your incontinence. Another minimally invasive2 option uses a synthetic or biologic material to help support your urethra, which is commonly known as a “sling.” It helps cradle the urethra by providing additional support to help correct urinary incontinence.3

What can I expect after stress urinary incontinence surgery?

In a recent study, 113 women had the Altis® sling implanted, and after two years 90.4% of women state they are “much better” or “very much better,” 87.9% did not leak after they coughed during a test (a “cough stress test”).4 Learn more about what to expect after surgery on

Can I become incontinent again after having a stress incontinence surgery?

It is possible to become incontinent after stress incontinence surgery. One factor to consider is that future pregnancies following stress incontinence surgery may negate the effects of your surgery and you may once again become incontinent.5

How long does it take to recover from a stress incontinence surgery?

Every patient’s recovery time is different following surgery. During your recovery, be sure to avoid heavy lifting and sexual intercourse for six weeks or as recommended by your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with specific details about your recovery process.2

What are the risks associated with stress incontinence surgery?

Some of the more common side effects from surgery include: mesh erosion, infection, short- or long-term pain, and injury to the bladder or other pelvic organs by the instruments used to place the sling. Ask your surgeon for a complete list of warnings, precautions and possible adverse events.3


1) Downloaded 5.25.18

2) Data on file with Coloplast.

3) 10.17.

4) Kocjancic E, Erickson E, Tu L-M, Gheiler E, Van Drie E. Two-Year Outcomes for the Altis® Adjustable Single Incision Sling System for Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence. Neurourol Urodyn. Released electronically October 29, 2016.

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