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Urinary Incontinence

Updated: Aug 7, 2021

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that can affect emotional, psychological, and social life and have significant adverse effect on a person’s quality of life. It most often occurs in females but can also affect men, especially those with prostate disease. Overall it is estimated that up to a quarter of men and women in the U.S. suffer from this condition. The three most common forms of urinary incontinence are as follows, although some people may experience a mixture of these (Mixed Incontinence):

  • Urge Incontinence

  • Stress Incontinence

  • Overflow Incontinence

Urge Incontinence

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects about 33 million people and presents with symptoms of urgency, frequency, with or without urge incontinence. The problem with OAB is that your brain may be telling your bladder to contract or squeeze at inappropriate times (when it is empty) or your bladder may simply be in an overactive state. OAB is more common in men with prostate problems and women after menopause but can be due to a wide variety of things and affect any age group. Just as you seek help for an “overactive heart” (atrial fibrillation), you should talk to your physician about your OAB symptoms.

Stress Incontinence

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) is a condition most commonly due to a weakened pelvic floor and its associated musculature. Although it can occur in men after prostate treatments, it most commonly affects older women. Since the bladder is at the lowest point in the pelvis, any strenuous activity such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects can put pressure on the bladder. If the pelvic muscles aren’t strong enough to balance the pressure out, urinary leakage may occur. There are unfortunately no FDA approved medication available to treat SUI. Ways to manage this condition include pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises such as “Kegel”, vaginal or urethral devices, and ultimately surgery. One of the most effective surgical options is a mid-urethral sling.

Overflow Incontinence

With Overflow Urinary Incontinence (OUI), the bladder is unable to empty appropriately or there is too much urine, causing urinary leakage. This could be due to a blockage by the prostate such as in cases of BPH or may be due to a weak bladder muscle that is unable to adequately contract or squeeze. Common symptoms are dribbling or frequent urination with small amounts of urine emptied each time.

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