What causes overflow urinary incontinence?

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If your bladder never completely empties, you might experience urine leakage, with or without feeling a need to go. Overflow incontinence occurs when something blocks urine from flowing normally out of the bladder, as in the case of prostate enlargement that partially closes off the urethra.

Men are much more frequently diagnosed with overflow incontinence than women because it is often caused by prostate-related conditions. In addition to enlarged prostate, other possible causes of urine blockage include tumors, bladder stones, or scar tissue. If a woman has severe prolapse of her uterus or bladder (meaning that the organ has dropped out of its proper position), her urethra can become kinked like a garden hose that is bent on itself, interfering with the flow of urine.

Nerve damage (from injuries, childbirth, past surgeries, or diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or shingles) and aging often prevent the bladder muscle from contracting normally. If you have a cystocele (the bladder sags into the vaginal canal) this may cause overflow incontinence because as the bladder sags, it kinks the urethra (like bending a garden hose) so the bladder cannot empty well. Medications that prevent bladder muscle contraction or that make you unaware of the urge to urinate can also result in overflow incontinence.

Overflow urinary incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors. In many cases, overflow incontinence can result from damage to the bladder or nerves. A urethra that is blocked can also cause the bladder to not empty completely, as can prostate issues. Diabetes can even be the cause of overflow urinary incontinence, if it damages nerves. In some cases, it may be as simple as a weak bladder muscle.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.