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Publications

Do you leak when you laugh?

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Quick question for girls only: Have you ever laughed or sneezed so hard that – oh no – you leaked?

You’re not alone. Leakage, or its medical name incontinence, is a condition that affects half of all women at some point in their lives. It actually has a whole medical specialty devoted to it called Female Pelvic Medicine.

What causes incontinence?
There are two main types of bladder leakage: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence typically releases a small leak of urine upon laughing, sneezing, or straining. Childbirth is a major factor in causing it, as well as having a chronic cough, obesity or a past hysterectomy. It’s a “mechanical” issue that results from insufficient support of the bladder.

The second type of incontinence is caused by an abnormal stimulation of nerves to the bladder. Urge incontinence gives the sensation of having “to go” all the time. It can also cause the bladder to empty involuntarily and without warning.

Joseph Maccarone, MD, director of Virtua female pelvic medicine, explains that both types of incontinence are highly treatable: “We’ve seen so many advances in the last 10 years and the results are better than ever. There is no reason for women to tolerate this condition.”

Dr. Maccarone adds: “In addition to our knowledge and expertise on every available treatment option, we understand the importance of listening with sensitivity and compassion.”

Get the BackStory
Watch a video about the latest incontinence treatments. Listen to Everyday Sound Advice about the subject.
Visit backstory.virtua.org.