Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

In this article we’ll look at the types, causes and treatments of Urinary Incontinence.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence is when you unintentionally pass urine. There are several different types of urinary incontinence that affect millions of people.

Types of Urinary Incontinence and Symptoms

Stress Incontinence

Urine leaks when your bladder is under pressure. This can happen when you sneeze, cough, or laugh.

Urge Incontinence

Urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to urinate. It may also happen soon after you suddenly feel the urge to urinate.

Overflow Incontinence

This is also known as Chronic Urinary Retention. It means you are unable to fully empty your bladder which causes frequent leaking.

Total Incontinence

This means your bladder can’t store any urine at all. This causes frequent leaking or constant urination.

What causes Urinary Incontinence?

Stress incontinence is typically the result of the muscles used to prevent urination, like the pelvic floor or urethral sphincter, becoming damaged or weakened.

Urge incontinence is usually the result of over-activity of the detrusor muscle. The detrusor muscle is the muscle that controls the bladder. It remains relaxed to allow the bladder to store urine and contracts during urination to release urine.

Overflow incontinence is often caused by an obstruction or blockage in your bladder which prevents it from emptying fully. It may also be caused by the detrusor muscle becoming to weak to empty the bladder fully.

Total incontinence is typically caused by a neurogenic bladder. This is a generalised term for when the lack of bladder control is due to a brain, spinal cord, or nerve issue. Total incontinence can also be caused by an anatomical defect that has been present from birth, or by the formation of a fistula. A fistula is a condition when a tube or channel develops between the bladder and a nearby area.

Certain things can also increase your chances of developing some form of urinary incontinence, such as: pregnancy and vaginal birth, obesity, a family history of incontinence, and increasing age. However, incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging.

How is Urinary Incontinence treated?

If you have any type of Urinary Incontinence you should see your GP. Urinary incontinence is a common issue that affect many people so you shouldn’t be embarrassed.

Initially, you GP may suggest some simple measures to try and help your symptoms. These may be:

  • Lifestyle changes like cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, losing weight, or drinking less
  • Pelvic floor exercises – strengthening your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing them
  • Bladder training – learning ways to wait longer between feeling the urge to urinate and urinating.

You may also benefit from the use of incontinence products. These can be in the form of pads of handheld urinals.

If these measures don’t help the management of your symptoms, medication may be recommended.

Surgery may also be considered. The procedures that are suitable for you will depend on what type of urinary incontinence you have. You can find out more about surgical procedures for Urinary Incontinence here.

Alternative remedies/self-help

There are some things you can do to help prevent the chance of you developing urinary incontinence. These include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding or cutting down on alcohol, staying active, and doing pelvic floor muscles.