Loss of bladder control is an important health problem known to affect a large number of women. Since many women do not seek help, it is impossible to know exactly how many suffer with unintended urine loss. There is no one cause for female urinary incontinence, but several risk factors do exist.
Whether you leak only occasional small amounts or you experience larger urine losses, the first step in improving your control is to see your primary care physician or urologist. He or she can diagnose your type of incontinence so that an appropriate treatment plan can be initiated.
There are several different types of incontinence, but they all have similar outcomes – urine leakage. The vignettes below describe some common symptoms seen with each type of incontinence. Remember, it often takes a visit to your doctor’s office to receive the testing necessary to confirm your diagnosis and form the best treatment plan for your urinary leakage.
Urge incontinence can be caused by an infection, a bladder or urethral growth, incomplete emptying of your bladder, or a number of other treatable medical conditions. For women with urge incontinence, a pelvic organ prolapse may be contributing to the bothersome urinary symptoms.
|Who||Common in women who have undergone prior childbirth, pelvic surgery, or menopause.||May occur in men who have undergone a radical prostatectomy or other urogenital surgery.|
|When||Occurs when PC muscles weaken or pelvic floor tissues become strained.||Occurs when the urinary sphincter mechanism is disrupted.|
A strong PC muscle helps holds the urethra, bladder, vagina, and rectum in place. When this muscle weakens, the continence mechanism in the urethra does not work as well, and small increases in abdominal pressure can cause urine to leak.
|After removal of the prostate, some men may experience some loss of urinary control for a number of reasons. Because of the sensitive location of the prostate, its surgical removal may cause disruption of either the anatomic continence mechanism or the nerves that influence urinary control.|
|What||Urine loss occurs with activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure - sneezing, coughing, laughing, standing, lifting, etc.||Urine loss occurs with activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure - sneezing, coughing, laughing, standing, lifting, etc.|
|Mixed Incontinence - Symptoms of both urge and stress incontinence|
At least one of these symptoms:
| Inability to hold back your urine flow|
Rushing to the bathroom
Frequent voiding during the day and night
Loss of urine while sleeping
|At least one of these symptoms||Urine loss with sneezing, coughing, laughing, standing, or lifting|
|Causes for Overflow Incontinence|
| Either an obstruction blocks the outflow of urine from the bladder |
Some causes for obstruction:
|The bladder loses its contractile power, and can no longer efficiently squeeze out urine|
Some causes for loss of contractility:
|** For a complete description of how the bladder works, see Urology Anatomy|
When the bladder does not empty property, common symptoms include:
Your two kidneys filter the circulating blood and make urine. The urine made by each kidney then flows downward through a ureter. Both the left and right ureters drain into the bladder, which acts as a urine storage bag. The bladder stores urine until it is full. Then the brain gives it the message that it is time to urinate. When the bladder receives this neurochemical message from the brain, its muscle contracts and urine is pushed out of the body through the urethra.
When the bladder does not empty properly, it becomes overfilled with urine. As the urine volumes inside the bladder increase, the pressure inside the bladder also increases. It is because of this pressure that urine is forced out of the body at unexpected times and leakage occurs. This phenomenon is called overflow incontinence.
Overflow incontinence may be an indication that the kidneys are becoming damaged. The kidneys perform the important job of making urine 24 hours a day. When the bladder becomes filled to capacity, urine from the kidneys cannot easily drain into it. Urine may then become backed-up in the kidneys causing a damaging swelling called hydronephrosis. In order to prevent hydronephrosis and other negative consequences caused by retaining too much urine, you should seek assistance from your primary care physician or urologist if you believe that you may have overflow incontinence. He or she can diagnose the problem and help you find the treatment plan that is right for you.
This important muscular sheet helps anchor the urethra, vagina, anus, and rectum in their proper anatomic locations. When the PC muscle weakens, these structures are more likely to shift out of place and prolapse or urinary incontinence may occur.