Factors that increase the risk of developing stress incontinence include:

  • Age. Although stress incontinence isn't a normal part of aging, physical changes associated with aging, such as the weakening of muscles, may make you more susceptible to stress incontinence. However, occasional stress incontinence can occur in women of any age.
  • Type of childbirth delivery. A delayed second stage of labor (when the woman is "pushing"), as well as multiple vaginal deliveries, is associated with higher rates of the later development of stress incontinence. Many of these women may also have forceps delivery to more rapidly deliver a healthy baby — forceps delivery may also be associated with a greater risk of stress incontinence.
  • Body weight. People who are overweight or obese have a much higher risk of stress incontinence. Excess weight increases pressure on the abdominal and pelvic organs. As a result, the pressure on the bladder may be increased even without the additional pressure from a cough or other force. Weight loss can improve stress urinary incontinence.
  • Previous pelvic surgery. Hysterectomy in women and particularly surgery for prostate cancer in men can alter the function and support of the bladder and urethra, making it much more likely for a person to develop stress incontinence. This effect can be either immediate or delayed.
Sept. 16, 2014