Urinary incontinence happens when you are unable to keep urine from leaking out of your urethra (unintentional passing of urine). This is a common problem that affects millions of people. There are four types of urinary incontinence, including:
- Stress incontinence – when urine leaks out when your bladder is under pressure. This usually occurs when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise and is usually the result of the weakening of or damage to the muscles used to prevent urination.
- Urge incontinence – this happens as a result of a strong, sudden need to urinate, or soon afterwards. Bladder squeezes and you lose urine. In this instance, you do not have enough time to get to the bathroom right after you feel the need to urinate. Urge incontinence is usually the cause of over activity of the muscles, which control the bladder.
- Overflow incontinence – also known as chronic urinary retention, this is when the bladder cannot fully empty. This causes frequent leaking. Overflow incontinence is the result of the obstruction or blockage to the bladder, which prevents it from emptying fully.
- Total incontinence – happens when the bladder cannot store any urine at all. This causes you to pass urine constantly or have frequent leaking. Different from the other types of incontinences, total incontinence may be caused by a problem with the bladder. This can be a result from birth, a spinal injury or a bladder fistula.
There are certain things that can increase the chances of urinary incontinence. This includes pregnancy and vaginal birth, obesity, a family history and increasing age.
It is best to see your doctor if you experience any kinds of urinary incontinence. This is a common problem and you should not feel embarrassed to talk to them about your symptoms. Talking to your doctor is the first step towards finding a way to effectively manage this possibly awkward problem. Your doctor may suggest some simple measures to help improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence. They may include:
- Losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
- Exercises such as pelvic floor. This is to be taught by the specialist.
- Bladder training where you can learn ways (guided by a specialist) to wait a little longer between the need to urinate and pass urine.