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Leaking During Sex

June 28, 2016 | Mary South, MD, MHA

It’s more common than you think

Sex can, and should be, an enjoyable and satisfying experience. It bonds us to our partner, creates intimacy, and is the apex of physical pleasure. But leaking during sex can be very disruptive, uncomfortable, and often put a halt to your sex life altogether.

Leakage with sex can manifest in different ways. Some women experience pain, urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence during intercourse.  Pelvic organ prolapse can also impair a woman – or a man’s – desire to initiate lovemaking. Because it’s embarrassing, many women develop issues with body image and can’t fully enjoy sex, which can, if unchecked, lead to an erosion of feelings between lovers.

SUI and Sex
We often hear reports from women who think they’re leaking urine during intercourse. If you’re among these women, you’re probably not imagining it. It’s not uncommon, affecting nearly 25% of women suffering from incontinence. The most common cause of leakage during sex is due to stress urinary incontinence (SUI).  Per the International Continence Society, SUI is defined as the “involuntary leakage on effort or exertion, or on sneezing or coughing.” During intercourse, the pressure of penetration on the bladder, which lies along the anterior wall of the vagina, can result in SUI. This condition is often a result of damage to the urethral sphincter (i.e. during pregnancy and childbirth) and the surrounding support structures, which impairs its ability to do its job – stopping urine from leaking when the bladder is under stress.  Treatment options for SUI are straightforward and successful, usually only requiring a minor outpatient procedure, physical therapy or kegels.

Other Explanations
Other less common reasons for leaking with sex include overactive bladder or bladder spasms triggered by intercourse and female ejaculation. Female ejaculation is not well understood and not accepted by all medical professionals as a true entity, but nevertheless is presumed to be due to the release of fluid from the Skene glands (glands near the opening of the urethra) at the time of orgasm.

It’s easy to shy away from discussing this issue with a physician, but the condition can be treated and you can rescue your sex life from involuntary leakage. Meet with a doctor who specializes in pelvic floor disorders to determine the cause and find the appropriate treatment.

[1]  The North American Menopause Society “Urinary Incontinence”

Find more articles on Bladder Problems, Sex and Your Pelvic Floor