How to treat stress incontinence

Stress incontinence, or leaking urine with activities such as laughing, coughing, or sneezing, affects so many women. Nearly 1 in 3 in the US report leaking urine (Cameron & Haraway, 2011). However, just because it’s so common and so many women experience it, it should not be considered “normal” or something you have to live with. Leaking urine may be a result of the pelvic floor muscles not working properly, and that's something that can be helped in an easy, fun, and effective way. 

What is stress incontinence?

People who experience stress incontinence usually leak urine when they:

  • Laugh,
  • Cough,
  • Sneeze,
  • Jump,
  • Run,
  • Lift weights,
  • or even with just simple movements like walking or getting up from a chair.

When this happens, women can feel embarrassed & ashamed, afraid to leave the house, unwilling to do exercises or activities that they love doing. Leaking urine can contribute to depression, stress, anxiety, and add to feelings of isolation.

What are the causes of stress incontinence?

One of the main functions of the pelvic floor muscles is to support our organs, bladder included, and hold urine in. During activities like sneezing, coughing, or running, downward pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor increases.

In a perfect world, the pelvic floor muscles have to be strong and fast enough to contract upwards and close down the urethra, so urine doesn’t leak out when that downward pressure gets too high.

If there are any problems in the pelvic floor muscles, like weakness, for example (or even the muscles can be too tight!) they aren’t able to do their job correctly and the urethra stays open. Weakness or pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be from childbirth (even c-sections), pregnancy, low back pain, poor posture, chronic constipation, and others.

What is stress incontinence?

How to fix or treat stress incontinence?

Sometimes SUI can be from other medical issues, like an infection, so make sure your doctor or medical provider is in the loop and rules out or treats any medical reasons why leaking is occurring. Once you have the green light, it’s a good idea to see if your pelvic floor is the culprit (it probably is!). Treating your pelvic floor right away with focused exercises is a great way to prevent leaking, improve strength, and ensure your pelvic floor muscles are healthy.

Pelvic floor muscle training should be the FIRST line of defense to stop leaking and improve function (DiBenedetto, Coldessa, & Floris, 2008). Adding in proper pelvic floor exercises throughout the day, with the help of Perifit, is a fun, easy, and effective way to help strengthen your pelvic floor.

What are the best pelvic floor exercises to stop stress incontinence?

Did you know that the pelvic floor muscles are the same as your quad or bicep? Yup! They are skeletal muscle, and are made up of “slow” and “fast” twitch muscle fibers. These are like Sprinters and Marathoners. They have 2 jobs: the fast twitch sprinters have to turn on fast and strong to respond to coughing, laughing, sneezing, jumping, etc. The slow twitch have to stay on throughout the day to keep us dry as the bladder is filling. In order to train BOTH types of fibers, we have to vary our exercises to make sure we have fast and slow type contractions. Correct pelvic floor Kegel exercises will help focus on closing the urethra and supporting the bladder, so leaking is decreased. 

This is why Perifit is so effective! The technology helps guide your Kegel training so that you learn to effectively activate BOTH types of muscle fibers, and you get to do it while doing fun in-app games and challenges. Strengthening is one piece of the puzzle, your pelvic floor also has to be working in the right way, and this is where Perifit can help.


Article written by
Marcy Crouch, PT, DPT, WCS
Board Certified in Women's Health Physical Therapy 
Creator and founder of The DT Method™️: The Standard for Birth Prep & PostPartum Recovery



Learn more about the benefits of Perifit:


Cameron, A. P., & Haraway, A. M. (2011). The treatment of female stress urinary incontinence: An evidenced-based review. Open access journal of urology, 3, 109-20. doi:10.2147/OAJU.S10541

DiBenedetto, P., Coldessa, A., Floris, S.  (2008) Rationale of pelvic floor muscles training in women with urinary incontinence. Minerva Ginecologica, 60(6):529-541] Retrieved from