Female Incontinence – Risk Factors, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

In this article, our expert will share information regarding what is Female Incontinence, risk factors for female urinary incontinence, types of incontinence, and their treatment.

What is Female Incontinence?

Female incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common problem, affecting women of all ages, and can be caused by a variety of factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and urinary tract infections.

While incontinence can be embarrassing and inconvenient, it is important to remember that it is not a sign of weakness or poor hygiene.

There are many treatment options available, and with the help of a healthcare provider, most women are able to manage their condition and lead full, active lives.

Some most common reasons behind causing of Female incontinence

Well, there could be multiple risk factors for female urinary incontinence. Some most common risk facts are as follows:-

  • Childbirth
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Menopause
  • Prior pelvic surgeries – hysterectomy
  • Increased weight
  • Advanced age

Types of Incontinence

Now there are different types of incontinence (mostly five), however, all types of incontinence results in leakage of urine but the symptoms could vary in each type of female incontinence.

1) Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is a type of incontinence that is characterized by a strong, sudden urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine.

This can happen frequently and can often be hard to control. Urge incontinence is usually caused by an overactive bladder or damage to the nerves that control the bladder. Treatment options include medications, changes in lifestyle, and surgery.

2) Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that is caused by stress on the bladder. The most common cause of stress incontinence is pregnancy, but it can also be caused by obesity, high-impact activities, and certain medical conditions.

Stress incontinence is characterized by leakage of urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, or doing any other activity that puts stress on the bladder. While stress incontinence can be a nuisance, it is usually not a serious medical condition.

However, if you are experiencing stress incontinence, it is important to see your doctor to rule out any other underlying medical conditions.

3) Mixed Incontinence

Mixed incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that is characterized by both stress and urge incontinence. mixed incontinence can be caused by a variety of factors, including pregnancy, menopause, obesity, and neurologic conditions.

Treatment for mixed incontinence typically includes lifestyle changes, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and medication. In some cases, surgery may also be recommended.

If you are experiencing mixed incontinence, it is important to talk to your doctor so that the best treatment plan can be tailored to your specific needs.

4) Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is the inability to control urination, resulting in “leakage” or “dribbling.” It is usually caused by an obstruction or blockage in the urinary tract, which prevents the bladder from emptying completely. This can be the result of an enlarged prostate, a urinary tract infection, or even constipation.

Overflow incontinence is more common in men than women, and is most often seen in older adults. While it can be embarrassing, overflow incontinence is treatable.

The first step is to see a doctor determine the underlying cause. Once the cause has been determined, treatment can begin.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to shrink an enlarged prostate or clear a urinary tract infection. In other cases, surgery may be necessary to remove an obstruction. With treatment, overflow incontinence can be managed and controlled.

5) Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is a type of incontinence that occurs when a person is unable to control their bladder or bowels due to a physical or mental impairment.

While there are many causes of functional incontinence, the most common is an impairment of the nervous system that prevents the brain from sending signals to the muscles that control urination and defecation.

Functional incontinence can also be caused by mental impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which can impair a person’s ability to recognize the need to use the restroom.

Functional incontinence can be a difficult condition to manage, but there are treatments available that can help people regain control of their bladder and bowels.

How does Overflow Incontinence Occur?

Overflow incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that can be caused by several factors. One cause is an overflow of urine due to weak muscles in the bladder.

This can be due to various conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injury. Another cause is an obstruction in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate or bladder stones.

Overflow incontinence can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as diuretics or sedatives. If you are experiencing overflow incontinence, it is important to consult with a doctor to determine the cause and find the most effective treatment.

Diagnosis of Female Incontinence

At the University of Chicago Hospitals Department of Urology, we understand that each patient is unique. Our goals are to protect your long-term health and preserve your urologic function while also identifying and managing the issues that limit your quality of life. We do this by utilizing the state-of-the-art techniques necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. Commonly, your visit for incontinence will include:

  • Discussion with your urologist about your urologic difficulties
  • Physical examination
  • Urinalysis and culture of urine
  • Ultrasound of the bladder
  • We may also ask you to record a bladder diary for us. This is a three day record of:
    All the times you use the restroom and how much urine you expel.
    All the times you leak, how much urine leaks out, and what caused you to leak.
    All the times you drink, how much you drink, and what you drink.

When necessary, we may perform additional tests:

  • Cystoscopy – To look inside your bladder with a small fiber-optic camera
  • Urodynamic Studies – A group of studies that provide information about how your bladder functions as it fills with urine and as it empties.
  • Radiologic Studies – X-Rays, ultrasounds, CAT Scans, MRIs, and others are all available at the Duchoissois Center for Advanced Medicine, just downstairs from the Urology Clinic.

Urodynamic studies are tests that we do in the Urology Clinic at the University of Chicago Hospital to find out how well your bladder and sphincter muscles are working. These tests help your urologist determine why you are experiencing urinary leakage, urinary retention, or difficulties urinating. They can also help your urologist recommend the best treatment for you.

During urodynamic testing, you will first be asked to empty your bladder in a special commode that measures the flow of your urine. Next, a small tube, called a catheter, will be placed in your bladder. This catheter has two purposes – it will be used to slowly fill your bladder with sterile water while it also measures the strength of your bladder muscle.

As your bladder is being filled with water, you will be asked questions about how your bladder feels. Our goal is to reproduce the bladder symptoms you have been experiencing so that we can best determine how to treat you effectively.

When your bladder is full, you will empty it. Everything will be explained to you as you go through the test. After the test, your catheter will be taken out and the results of your test will be explained to you.

Treatment Plans for Female Incontinence

Now as we already learned above that there are different types of female incontinence and each incontinence is treated differently. So, first, you need to identify what type of Female incontinence you are suffering from and then according to that refer to the below treatments that we have provided for each incontinence.

Treatment of Urge incontinence

There are a number of treatment options available for people who suffer from urge incontinence. One common treatment is Kegel exercises, which involve repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that control urination.

Medications such as oxybutynin and tolterodine can also be effective in treating urge incontinence by reducing muscle spasms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying condition causing urge incontinence.

Whatever the treatment, it is important to seek medical advice to ensure that the most appropriate treatment is selected.

Treatment of Stress Incontinence

Treatments of stress incontinence are available that can greatly improve the quality of life. While there is no cure, treatment can help to control the symptoms and minimize the impact on daily activities. Conservative treatment options include weight loss, pelvic floor muscle exercises, and changes in fluid intake.

For more severe cases, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery will depend on the underlying cause of the incontinence. In some cases, a simple procedure can be performed to tighten the muscles around the urethra.

In other cases, more extensive surgery may be necessary. Regardless of the treatment approach, it is important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a plan that is tailored to your individual needs.

Treatment of Mixed Incontinence

There are a number of treatment options available for patients suffering from mixed incontinence. The most common approach is to treat the underlying causes of both stress and urge incontinence, which often involves lifestyle changes such as weight loss, dietary modification, and increased pelvic floor muscle exercises.

In some cases, medications may also be prescribed to help control bladder contractions or increase urine production. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair anatomical defects or dysfunction of the bladder neck, or urethra.

With proper treatment, most patients with mixed incontinence can achieve significant improvement in their symptoms.

Treatment of Overflow Incontinence

The treatments for overflow incontinence depend on the cause of the leakage. Overflow incontinence can occur for two reasons – either an obstruction blocks the outflow of urine from the bladder or the bladder loses its ability to squeeze properly. In either case, urine builds up in the bladder, and intervention is absolutely required in order to protect the future health of the kidneys.


When an obstruction blocks the outflow of urine from the bladder: When the bladder loses its contractile power and can no longer squeeze:
  • A catheter may be temporarily or permanently used to empty the bladder.
  • Blockages caused by an enlarged prostate may occasionally improve with medications.
  • The only way to resolve the problem permanently is to remove the obstruction so that urine can flow normally again.
  • Most of the time, blockages must be treated surgically.
  • A catheter must be used to drain the bladder.
  • Several options exist for those who need a catheter to empty their bladders:
    Indwelling transurethral Foley catheter
    Indwelling suprapubic tube
    Intermittent catheterization of the urethra
    Intermittent catheterization of another     channel












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