What is Urinary Incontinence?
Note: If you come across words you don't fully understand while viewing this site or while reading other materials on incontinence, refer to the glossary included in this site for further explanation.
Simply put, urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine. It is not a disease, but a symptom. Many conditions and disorders can cause the symptom of urinary incontinence, including pelvic surgery, childbirth, injuries to the pelvic region, infections, hormonal changes and changes associated with aging.
Types of Urinary Incontinence:
One of the difficulties of dealing with urinary incontinence is that there are several types, and they are often intermixed. When you go to your doctor and have a complete urologic exam, you will probably be told you have one of the following types of incontinence:
Stress Incontinence: when urine leaks as a result of a cough, sneeze, laugh or other movement that causes a sudden increase in bladder pressure.
Urge Incontinence: when a person feels a sudden urge to urinate but may not be able to inhibit the passing of urine long enough to get to the toilet.
Overflow Incontinence: when the bladder overfills and leaks without warning and without any sensation of the need to urinate.
Facts About Urinary Incontinence
- An estimated 17 million Americans experience some form of urinary incontinence.
- 85% of those affected are women.
- Only 1 in 12 persons with urinary incontinence seeks help.
- There are many causes of urinary incontinence.
- Urinary incontinence is treatable and generally does not require surgery.
Source: National Association for Continence (NAFC)
Signs That You May Be Experiencing Urinary Incontinence
- Leakage of urine such that it prevents you from participating in normal activities.
- Leakage of urine that causes you embarrassment.
- Leakage of urine which began or continued after an operation (hysterectomy, Caesarian section, prostate surgery, etc.).
- Inability to urinate (retention of urine).
- Urinating more frequently than usual without a known bladder infection.
- Needing to rush to the bathroom and/or losing urine if you do not "arrive on time."
- Pain related to filling the bladder, and/or pain related to urination (in the absence of a bladder infection).
- Frequent bladder infections.
- Progressive weakness of the urinary stream with or without a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
- Abnormal urination or changes in urination related to a nervous system abnormality (stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, etc.).