Relieving Stress: Stress Urinary Incontinence

Nancy Muller Health Pro
  • Recently, I read with interest about Johnson & Johnson's launch of a new "product" in the form of a subscription program designed to help manage and even relieve stress that women experience in their daily lives. The online program, Upliv, begins with a stress analysis and is comprised of weekly sessions teaching relaxation strategies.  Products conceived to "elicit relaxing and refreshing moods" are shipped periodically to subscribers. Based on research leading up to the launch, women ages 25 to 45 experiencing Upliv's program reported improvements over time in quality of sleep, energy level, cognitive clarity, and even in relationships, according to a New York Times article announcing the online venture.1

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    Stress on women comes in multiple forms. In addition to sharing the stress of responsibilities in the workplace, from relationships, and due to personal finances that men equally experience, women typically shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden in caregiving for the family unit, both for children and parents, in community involvement, and even household management. An abundance of research exists on the harmful effects of stress. In fact, endocrinologists have found that cumulative stress exposure not only accelerates the rate of aging in both genders, but its negative effects on the premenopausal woman are not present in young men2.


    While much remains to be unearthed about stress and how it is best managed and even minimized, myths about stress abound in part because of confusion and lack of public health education. For example, one of NAFC's nationwide surveys of the public uncovered the fact that 26% of all women at least 18 years of age or older reveal feeling that stress in the office or home puts a woman at risk of experiencing stress urinary incontinence. This myth is more widely held by younger women, as 36% of women aged 18 to 24 express believing this is the case3. It is essential to debunk this myth, so that the two very different terms can be appropriately distinguished from each other, as each requires its own set of interventions and remedies. Reference to biological stress, whether in the form of physiological or psychological stress, addresses the state of an organism and how it responds and adapts to its environment. This definition draws largely on the research and teachings of Hans Selye beginning in the 1930's4.


    On the other hand, stress urinary incontinence (SUI), while also physiological in nature, occurs because of weak pelvic floor musculature that fails to support the pelvic organs including the urethra. It represents a dysfunction of the pelvic floor, resulting in the involuntary leakage of urine upon exertion such as a cough, laugh, sneeze, or heavy lifting. Pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causal factors in women. Understanding the causal factors behind the symptoms of a problem is the first step in getting the problem addressed. 


    Aromatherapy by mail may work wonders for one's outlook or mood or even sleep patterns. It may even retard the aging process. But it won't do a thing to halt the involuntary loss of urine. Learn more about Stress Urinary Incontinence and obtain the right answers to the real questions you have about this kind of stress.


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    Nancy Muller

    Executive Director



    1 Newman AA (February 10, 2010).  Stress relief online, aromatherapy by mail, The New York Times, Retrieved February 25, 2010, from 10adco.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1266321864-zZZV//GlAhAxlQUnblCdzg

    2 Van Cauter E, Leproult R, & Kupfer DJ (1996).  Effects of gender and age on the levels and circadian rhythmicity of plasma cortisol.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 81  (7), 2468 -2473.

    3 Muller N (2005).  What Americans understand and how they are affected by bladder control problems: Highlights of recent nationwide consumer research.  Urologic Nursing, 25 (2), 109 - 115.

    4 Selye H (1956).  The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill.



Published On: March 02, 2010