What is reflex incontinence?

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Megan L. Sneed, MD
Urogynecology
Reflex incontinence occurs when the bladder muscle contracts and urine leaks (sometimes in large amounts) without any warning or urge. This can happen as a result of damage to the nerves that normally warn the brain that the bladder is filling. Reflex incontinence usually appears in women with serious neurological impairment from spinal cord injury and other injuries, multiple sclerosis or damage from surgery or radiation treatment. 
Jill Rabin
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
When a person suffers from reflex incontinence, involuntary bladder contractions occur, but the urge to urinate is completely absent. The normal micturation reflex (urination) is somehow interrupted: sphincter relaxation, bladder contraction, opening of the urethra, urine flow and the bladder contraction will cause unpredictable voiding when the bladder is full or otherwise stimulated (by cold air, for example), resulting in incontinence.
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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.