What is Urinary Incontinence?

Posted by Christine Jurzenski on

What is Urinary incontinence?

It is the involuntary loss of urine, or essentially loss of bladder control. Over 25 million adult Americans experience incontinence per year.

While incontinence impacts both males and females, it tends to be more common in females, even more so if the female is over the age of 50.

So what causes urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can be caused by a multitude of things including specific changes in the body, underlying medical conditions, everyday habits, or physical problems. Women are more prone to urinary incontinence during pregnancy, after childbirth, or after hormonal changes.

There are 6 types of urinary incontinence

  1. Stress incontinence: Contrary to what you might think, this has nothing to do with emotional tension as the cause is purely physical. Do you ever pee just a bit when you laugh, cough, or do any sort of workout? Well that could be a sign that you have stress incontinence.
Stress incontinence commonly occurs when the urethra and/or pelvic floor muscles weaken and cannot dependably hold urine. It is common in women who have given birth vaginally and the elderly.
Stress incontinence can also impact men who have had prostate surgery or a pelvic fracture.
  1. Urge incontinence (overactive bladder): Unlike stress incontinence, urge incontinence is exactly what it sounds like – the constant urge to pee even if your bladder isn’t full. This impacts both men and women and is a result of an overactive bladder muscle.

Urge incontinence can be caused by a range of issues such as bladder inflammation, nerve injury, brain or nerve problems (eg MS or a stroke), or even infections – such as UTIs.

  1. Mixed incontinence: This is a combination of the two above and is very common in women, and in men who have had prostate removal surgery.   
  2. Overflow incontinence: Overflow is almost the opposite of urge incontinence as you never really feel like you need to pee even though your bladder is overflowed with urine, therefore causing it to leak out. Overflow incontinence tends to be more common in men due to prostate enlargement or prostate related issues, however are seen in women. Nerve damage is also a common cause for overflow incontinence.             
  3. Functional Incontinence: is where your urinary tract is actually functioning properly but outside factors are causing leakage. Examples include medications, mental illness, and inability to find a toilet when needed.                                                                                                         
  4. Reflex incontinence: usually occurs in people with serious neurological impairments including spinal injuries, MS, or damage from surgery. Reflex incontinence is when the bladder muscle contracts and urine leaks.

So what’s the deal with urinary continence and UTIs?

Infections, including UTIs, can be a cause of incontinence. If you’re someone who is prone to UTIs it is extremely important to keep your UTIs at bay so as not to cause any further issue. If you’re not sure if you have a UTI or not, check out this article with 6 signs of a UTI. We also recommend using CRANEL for an all natural prevention. If you’re interested in learning more about the difference between antibiotics and cranberries, check out this great article.

While UTIs can contribute to most types of incontinence, overflow incontinence can contribute to a UTI. As above, overflow incontinence is when you never feel like you need to pee and your bladder starts to overflow. The problem is that when urine is in your bladder too long, it can attract infections, namely UTIs.  

What can you do to prevent incontinence?

The Mayo Clinic recommends pelvic floor exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding bladder irritants, and eating more fibre.

We would also suggest you speak to your medical professional if you have any questions or concerns.




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