Stress Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

Article by Nadine Stewart

What is Stress Incontinence?

When you leak a small amount of urine during a cough, sneeze, laugh or doing exercise, this is known as stress (urinary) incontinence. It is usually caused by weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. You may also have had some damage to the connective tissue in the pelvis that supports the bladder.

What Causes Stress Incontinence?

A small amount of leakage occurs because, in certain situations, the pressure in the bladder becomes greater than the pressure in the urethra (the tube where urine leaves the body). This bladder pressure could be caused by an activity such as a cough or a sneeze, laughing, running, jumping, or lifting something a little heavy. These activities cause the pressure inside the abdomen to rise, and this pressure is then transmitted to the bladder. The muscles around the urethra are not strong enough to keep the urethra closed, so a small amount of urine leaks out. For women, pelvic floor muscles are usually weakened by pregnancy and childbirth.

How is Stress Incontinence Diagnosed?

Usually, a clinical diagnosis can be made using the information you have given and a physical examination. However, there is also a test that can diagnose stress incontinence. It is called Urodynamic Studies. It is not usually performed on every person with stress incontinence as it is expensive and invasive. It is usually done for persons considering surgery to ensure incontinence is actually stress incontinence and not from another cause.

What Treatments are available for Stress Incontinence?

Often, physiotherapy is considered the first line of treatment for stress incontinence. An individualised exercise program can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to stop leakage. If this does not improve symptoms adequately, certain pessaries may be appropriate for some patients. A pessary is a small device that sits inside the vagina and supports the bladder to prevent leakage.

What Results Can You Expect?

A large proportion (around 70%) of people with stress incontinence will have their symptoms improved or resolved with physiotherapy treatment. However, if left untreated, often the problem continues to worsen gradually.

Will You Need Surgery?

A small percentage of people will not have enough improvement with physiotherapy treatment and may need to have surgery to resolve their symptoms.

For more information, please consult your physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic floor conditions.

Pelvic Floor Treatment

Article by Nadine Stewart

Women's Health Physiotherapy Conditions

Addressing a diverse range of women-specific concerns, Women’s Health Physiotherapy focuses on assessing and treating various conditions. These encompass issues like constipation, faecal incontinence, mastitis, pelvic floor exercises, pregnancy-related back pain, and massages, along with concerns such as prolapse, abdominal separation, stress incontinence, and underactive pelvic floor. Moreover, the discipline encompasses managing urge faecal incontinence, urgency/overactive bladder (OAB), and urge incontinence, while also offering pre and post-pregnancy exercise prescription and rehabilitation.

More Information


Women's Health Physiotherapy Appointment FAQs

Women's Health Conditions

Women’s Health Physiotherapy incorporates the assessment and treatment of a large number of women-specific conditions including:

Q: What Should You Bring To Your Women's Health Appointment?

A: Please bring any information about your condition from your GP, medical specialists, or other healthcare providers to your appointment. Arrive 10 minutes early to complete paperwork. Alternatively, we can email you information before your appointment.

Q: What's the Appropriate Attire for Your Appointment?

A: Wear comfortable clothing for ease of movement.

Q: Will Your Appointment Information Be Kept Confidential?

A: Yes, your appointment details remain confidential. Your physiotherapist will only share with other healthcare providers if you consent. Appointments are held in private rooms for confidentiality. An exception is rectus diastasis, which may be treated in a separate area if requested.

Q: How Long Does the Appointment Last?

A: The appointment duration varies based on your condition. Initial women's health appointments usually take an hour. Mastitis and rectus diastasis appointments are typically 30 to 40 minutes. Contact our receptionist for specific details.

Q: What's the Cost of Women's Health Physiotherapy Appointment?

A: Session costs vary depending on your condition. Contact our reception for more information.

Q: Can You Claim Women's Health Physiotherapy Under Private Health Insurance?

A: Yes, bring your private health insurance card for on-the-spot claim processing.

Q: Is Your Appointment Covered by EPC/Medicare Referral?

A: Yes, we accept GP referrals under EPC guidelines. A gap payment is required after applying the Medicare rebate due to extended consultation time with your women's health physiotherapist. Contact our reception for details.