Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine. You may leak urine. Or you may not be able to hold urine until you can get to a bathroom. Read on to learn more about the types of incontinence.

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

If you have SUI, urine leaks out of the bladder during activity. Symptoms of SUI include leaking when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. This may occur because muscles under the bladder are weak. It also sometimes happens in men for a time after prostate surgery.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is also called an “overactive bladder.” With this type, the bladder feels full even when it’s almost empty. The main symptom is a sudden urge to urinate that can’t be controlled. The urge is felt often. This type can be caused by infection or by a nerve problem. It can also be caused by a growth in the bladder.

Overflow Incontinence

With overflow incontinence, the bladder doesn’t empty when it should. It then gets very full. Urine may leak out in small amounts. Or the urge to urinate is felt often, but urine trickles instead of flowing freely. The bladder may never feel empty. Blockage of the opening to the bladder or the urethra may cause this type. Or it may be caused by nerve or muscle problems that stop the bladder from contracting.

Mixed Incontinence

If you have mixed incontinence, you have more than one type of incontinence at the same time.

Treatments

Specific treatment for urinary incontinence will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Behavioral therapies (to help people regain control of their bladder), including the following:

    • Bladder training. Teaches people to resist the urge to void and gradually expand the intervals between voiding.

    • Toileting assistance. Uses routine or scheduled toileting, habit training schedules, and prompted voiding to empty the bladder regularly to prevent leaking.

  • Pelvic muscle rehabilitation (to improve pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage), including the following:

    • Kegel exercises. Regular, daily exercising of pelvic muscles can improve, and even prevent, urinary incontinence. This is particularly helpful for younger women. Should be performed 30-80 times daily for at least 8 weeks.

    • Biofeedback. Used in conjunction with Kegel exercises, biofeedback helps people gain awareness and control of their pelvic muscles.

    • Vaginal weight training. Small weights are held within the vagina by tightening the vaginal muscles. Should be performed for 15 minutes, twice daily, for four to six weeks.

    • Pelvic floor electrical stimulation. Mild electrical pulses stimulate muscle contractions; should be performed in conjunction with Kegel exercises.

  • Medication (including specific drugs for incontinence as well as estrogen therapy, which may be helpful in conjunction with other treatments for postmenopausal women with UI)

  • Surgery (if the incontinence is related to structural problems such as an abnormally positioned bladder or a blockage)

  • Diet modifications (i.e., eliminating caffeine in coffee, soda, and tea, and/or eliminating alcohol)

See All Treatments

Treatments for Incontinence

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Symptoms and Screenings for Incontinence

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Causes and Preventions for Incontinence

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Education and Resources for Incontinence

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Support groups for Incontinence

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Learn More about Incontinence

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