What is urinary incontinence?

Beri M. Ridgeway, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
In this video, Beri Ridgeway, MD from Riverside Community Hospital breaks down the different types of urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control. It's more common in women but can affect men, too. There are two main types:
  • Stress incontinence is the more common type. It happens when you sneeze, cough, exercise or laugh. This type is most often is caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles due to pregnancy, childbirth, obesity or prostate surgery.
  • Urge incontinence is a type that makes you always need to go to the bathroom. It can be caused by damage to the bladder’s nerves, the nervous system or muscles. It’s most commonly a complication caused by multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and stroke.
This content originally appeared on http://blog.mountainstar.com/
Lennox Hoyte, MD
Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery
Urinary incontinence involves involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. In this video, Lennox Hoyte, MD, an OB/GYN and urogynecologist at Florida Memorial Hospital of Tampa, describes different types of urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine.  This can be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles that fail to support the bladder during coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise.  It may also be caused by misfiring of the nerves surrounding the bladder, resulting in “overactive bladder” or needing to frequently empty the bladder or feeling that you need to empty your bladder.  It can also be caused by cognitive impairment as seen in neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and delirium.
Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
There are three main types of urinary incontinence:
  • Stress incontinence is characterized by the leakage of small amounts of urine when you cough, sneeze, lift a heavy object, exercise, or otherwise put pressure on your bladder. One cause of stress incontinence is a weakened or damaged sphincter. Prostate surgery, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or prostatectomy, can cause such damage.
  • Urge incontinence occurs when the bladder develops a spasm. It suddenly contracts and expels urine. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) -- enlarged prostate -- seems to leave the bladder prone to such irritation.
  • Overflow incontinence is the result of partial obstruction, such as an enlarged prostate. Because the bladder cannot empty completely, urine may dribble frequently from the urethra. It may also occur when the bladder is severely weakened, which may also result from BPH if the bladder muscle becomes thick from straining to urinate.
RealAge
Administration

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary and uncontrollable loss of urine that can range from mild leaking to more serious accidents. It's often temporary and is almost always due to an underlying medical condition.

Take the RealAge Test!

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Urinary incontinence is the term doctors use for loss of bladder control. In other words, sometimes your bladder leaks urine before you can make it to the bathroom. You may not realize it, but your body uses certain muscles to hold urine in the bladder until you have a convenient time and place to release it.

A couple of different things can happen to those muscles that can cause urinary incontinence. They may become too weak, which could cause you to have an accident when you sneeze or laugh, for instance. Or those important bladder-control muscles may become easily excited and overactive. In that case, you may get frequent uncontrollable urges to pee.

While it's not something most people like to talk about—or hear about— urinary incontinence is a common problem. Your doctor can suggest strategies for keeping urinary incontinence under control.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Urinary incontinence is a fancy name for the accidental release of urine. It comes about when something interferes with the control of urine. You can have trouble holding it in (urge incontinence), you can get up a zillion times during the night (nocturia) and dribble on underwear, and/or every cough or sneeze can leave a little surprise (stress incontinence).
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Administration

Incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder, which can affect both men and women in any age group, but is more common in women and the elderly. As the population ages, the number of people suffering bladder control problems is increasing. The costs of this problem are personal, physical and financial, and many with incontinence suffer social embarrassment, isolation, ill health and even depression.

The bladder has two essential functions – to store urine and to empty urine. While this concept is simple, the interplay necessary between the brain, bladder, sphincters and pelvic floor muscles is very complex. Some of the filling and emptying controls can be both voluntary and involuntary, but are dependent upon a well-synchronized system. When any component of the system loses normal function, urinary control can be affected. Neural injury, damage to the bladder, sphincters, supporting structures and even the pelvic floor can all lead to incontinence.

It is important to understand that treatment is available.  Incontinence is not something to accept as a result of age, surgery, childbirth, or related illness. Incontinence is a burden that can be lifted and shouldn’t prevent anyone from engaging in fulfilling activities.

Urinary incontinence is uncontrollable urination. You may not be able to control your bladder, which in turn can cause you to urinate unexpectedly. In some cases, this can be a minor leak - you laugh really hard at a funny joke and it causes you to urinate a tiny bit. This is known as stress incontinence - something stresses the bladder. In other cases, you may suddenly have to urinate and must do so immediately, without enough time to make it to the bathroom. This is known as urge incontinence. In rare cases, people can have gross total incontinence, in which the person has no ability to control their bladder, and is usually the result of a birth defect.

Continue Learning about Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the accidental release of urine, which can affect both men and women. Symptoms of UI may differ from person to person and the treatment options range from medications to surgery. Learn more from our ex...

perts about UI.
More

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.