Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the uncontrolled leakage of urine. There are three main types of urinary incontinence, although some incontinence patients may experience more than one type:

  1. Stress incontinence - the unintentional loss of urine due to increased pressure in the abdomen. Stress incontinence occurs when abdominal pressure rises due to activities like coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
  2. Urge incontinence - strong and uncontrollable urges to urinate, often caused by contractions or spasms of the bladder that lead to unintentional voiding of urine.
  3. Overflow incontinence - the inability to completely empty the bladder, leading to urinary retention that unintentionally leaks.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence causes may include one or more of the following:

  • Injury in pelvic region
  • Childbirth
  • Weakness of muscles of urinary bladder or pelvic floor
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blockage of urethra
  • Brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Birth defects

Steps may be taken to improve urinary continence, including: avoiding constipation; smoking; or the overuse of diuretics, antidepressants and cold medications. Urinary incontinence may also be improved by practicing double-emptying of the bladder (urinate, wait a few seconds, then urinate again) and retraining the bladder by passing urine every 3 to 6 hours.

Learn more about Emory’s incontinence treatment options.