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JAMA Patient Page
July 16, 2003

Stress Incontinence

JAMA. 2003;290(3):426. doi:10.1001/jama.290.3.426

Urinary incontinence is any unintentional leakage of urine. It can be caused by several underlying medical conditions, including urinary infections, strokes, pregnancy, obesity, neurological problems, and other health problems sometimes associated with aging. Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence. A person with stress incontinence is unable to hold urine while coughing, sneezing, or laughing or during other movements that put pressure on the bladder, the organ that collects and holds urine. Fortunately, stress incontinence can usually be successfully treated.

The July 16, 2003, issue of JAMA includes an article about stress incontinence.

When you urinate, the muscles of the bladder tighten and squeeze the urine out through the urethra, a tube that leads from the bladder to the outside of your body. At the same time, muscles surrounding the urethra loosen, allowing the urine to pass through. These muscles can also tighten and squeeze the urethra shut to prevent urine from passing. If these muscles become weak or damaged, they may not be able to hold urine during activities such as sneezing or laughing. The resulting urine leakage may be just a small amount, or if the bladder is full, it may be more.

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