What is incontinence?


Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine. It can be stress, urge or mixed incontinence. When any part of the urinary system malfunctions, incontinence can result.

Who is affected by incontinence?


Urinary incontinence is reported to affect 13-25 million people in the United States. Many patients do not seek treatment due to embarrassment, or a misperception that nothing can be done about it. Many women believe that incontinence is a normal part of the aging process. It is important to know urinary incontinence can usually be successfully treated.

What causes incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can be caused by many factors. A few of the most common causes are:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Diabetes
  • Bladder or kidney infection
  • Menopausal drying/thinning of the urethra
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Excess caffeine consumption
  • Excess fluid consumption
  • Certain medications
  • Nervous system disorders that may effect the lower urinary tract
  • Spinal cord lesions
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Stroke


What are the different types of incontinence?

Stress Incontinence

When there is a leakage of urine during exercise, coughing, laughing, sneezing, or any other activity. Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic muscles have been damaged, or the sphincter muscle has weakened.

Urge Incontinence/Detrusor Instability/Overactive Bladder


Urge incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine associated with an abrupt, strong, and uncontrollable urge to void. This is caused by overactivity of the detrusor muscle, or it can be the result of damaged nerve pathways from the bladder to the brain.

Mixed Incontinence


The presence of stress and urge incontinence symptoms together.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence refers to the leakage that occurs when the amount of urine produced exceeds the bladder’s holding capacity. This type of incontinence is common in women with a failing bladder. There may be intermittent flow, hesitancy, a weak stream, or dribbling when trying to urinate.

How is incontinence diagnosed?

Urinary incontinence is diagnosed by a thorough clinical evaluation. This may include:

  1. Medical history
  2. List of medications
  3. Pelvic exam
  4. Voiding diary (recorded over 3-7 days)
  5. Urinalysis and culture
  6. Urodynamics (cystometrogram)

How is urinary incontinence treated?

Treatment of urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence you have. The three major categories of treatment are behavioral modification, pharmacological therapy, and surgical treatment. Treatment can involve:

  • Behavioral Modification
  • Pharmacologic Treatment
  • Surgical Treatment