OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to better understand the subjective bothersomeness of stress urinary incontinence symptoms and their impact on the quality of life of community-dwelling women. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a mail survey of 605 women in the United States who reported symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. RESULTS: More than three fourths of the respondents reported their symptoms to be bothersome, with approximately 29% reporting their symptoms to be moderately to extremely bothersome. The odds of moderate-to-extreme bother decreased with age and increased with symptom severity. Concerns about social embarrassment were evident. CONCLUSION: Stress urinary incontinence symptoms can impose a significant burden on the women who have them. The results reinforce the need for health care, professionals to be proactive in questioning and educating patients about this common lower urinary tract symptom.