Urinary incontinence is a condition in which someone loses control of their bladder or leaks urine. There are several different types of urinary incontinence that have different causes and affect certain people more frequently. According to the US Office On Women’s Health, urinary incontinence affects twice as many women as men. Read on to learn more about each type of incontinence, their causes, and how they are treated.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Each type of urinary incontinence has a different set of symptoms and potential causes.
Stress incontinence is one of the most common of the different types of incontinence. It’s important to note that stress incontinence doesn’t involve emotional or psychological stress. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks when there is stress or pressure on the bladder.
The pressure is often caused by everyday activities that engage your pelvic floors. Things like sneezing, laughing, and coughing can all trigger stress incontinence. Leaks may also occur during sudden movements and some physical activity such as jumping.
When younger women report that they have symptoms of incontinence, they usually have stress incontinence. That is because women can experience tissue or nerve damage that weakens the pelvic floor or the sphincter during childbirth. This can occur immediately following the birth or it may not start to present itself until years later. Stress incontinence in women may also occur during menopause.
Stress incontinence in men is most often caused by a prostatectomy, which is the surgical removal of the prostate. This surgery is performed to treat prostate cancer. The procedure may weaken the urinary sphincter.
Urge incontinence occurs when you have a sudden and strong need to urinate without warning followed by the loss of urine. The urge is difficult to delay and the bladder spasms, causing urine to leak. People with urge incontinence may also experience frequent urination and have the urge to urinate many times throughout the day and night.
Urge incontinence may be a short term problem linked to an acute condition such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or even a kidney stone. In other cases, it is a long term problem caused by a chronic condition like diabetes. It may also be linked to serious conditions like bladder cancer or neurologic disorders. Men may also experience urge incontinence if they have an enlarged prostate that affects the bladder or blocks the flow of urine.
Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder is not able to fully empty when you urinate. The small amounts of urine that remain in the bladder will leak out later when the bladder becomes too full. You may or may not feel the urge to urinate before the leaks occur. Other symptoms of overflow incontinence include frequent UTIs, trouble starting to urinate, weak stream of urine, and waking up frequently at night to urinate.
Overflow incontinence may be caused by bladder stones, bladder tumors, pelvic organ prolapse, damage from pelvic surgery, diabetes, and neurological conditions such as MS or brain injuries. It may also be caused by an enlarged prostate in men.
Mixed incontinence is a combination of the above types of urinary incontinence. Specifically, it is the combination of stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence.
Treating & Managing Urinary Incontinence
How different types of urinary incontinence are treated often depends on their underlying cause. The first line of treatment is to try and manage symptoms with lifestyle and behavioral changes such as:
- Training your bladder by holding it when you feel the urge to urinate
- Scheduling toilet trips
- Double voiding, or urinating and trying again a few minutes later
- Changing diet or fluid intake
Pelvic floor exercises are often used for managing symptoms. The goal of these exercises is to strengthen the muscles that control urination. These exercises are most effective at treating stress incontinence but can also be beneficial to people with urge incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises are often used in combination with other types of treatment.
There are some medications that can be prescribed to help with symptoms. There are also medical devices and injections that can be used to control the flow of urine from the bladder. For patients whose symptoms are not managed well with other therapies, surgery may be recommended.
Alliance Urology Specialists is home to an expert team of urologists that are committed to providing comprehensive care to adults with urologic disorders such as urinary incontinence. If you are experiencing the symptoms of incontinence or another related condition, call our office at (336) 274-1114 to make an appointment.