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What causes Urinary Incontinence

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 24, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

To leak urine when you do not intend to is not only embarrassing but also dangerous, here you will know why.

impatient queue at the urinalWhat we know as urinary incontinence is actually the involuntary leakage of urine, which means you will be letting your bodily liquids out without even wanting to do so. You are basically unable to hold your urine in your bladder because the voluntary control over the urinary sphincter is either lost or weakened. Urinary incontinence has been found to be a more common problem than people tend to realise, so what could cause this disease?


[Read: Don't be Shy about Urinary Incontinence]


Stress Incontinence


This incontinence usually happens when the pressure that you feel inside your bladder fills with the urine and becomes greater than the strength of your urethra to stay closed. The urethra which is the tube through which the urine passed out of your body may not be able to stay closed for two reasons:

•    If your pelvic floor muscles are weak or damaged
•    And if your urethral sphincter which is the ring of muscle that keeps the urethra closed is damaged.

If you happen to put any extra pressure on your bladder like when laughing or sneezing then you will cause the urine to leak out of your urethra. You will lose strength in the urethra for the following reasons:

•    nerve damage during childbirth
•    increased pressure on your tummy, for example because you are pregnant or very overweight
•    a lack of the hormone oestrogen in women (less oestrogen is produced after the menopause)
•    certain medications

[Read: Dealing with Stress Urinary Incontinence]

Urge Incontinence

Sometimes you may feel an urgent and frequent need to pass urine and this can be caused because of the detrusor muscles in the walls of the bladder. This muscle relaxes to allow the bladder to fill with urine, and then contract when the urine is let out. There is a possibility that the detrusor muscles may contract too often and in this way it creates an urgent need to go to the toilet. There are possible reasons for the detrusor muscles to contract, these are:

•    neurological conditions, which affect the brain and spinal cord, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
•    conditions affecting the lower urinary tract (urethra and bladder), such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) or tumours in the bladder
•    drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
•    constipation  

•    certain medications

Overflow Incontinence


This is chronic urinary retention and is caused by the blockage or the obstruction to the bladder. Your bladder fills up as usual and as it gets obstructed you will not be able to empty it completely when you give a try.
The pressure from the urine still in your bladder builds up behind the obstruction which causes frequent leaks. The bladder can be obstructed by:

•    an enlarged prostate gland, in men
•    bladder stones
•    constipation

Overflow incontinence can be caused by your detrusor muscles that aren’t contracting fully. This means that your bladder does not completely empty when you visit the toilet.


[Read: Treatment for Urinary Incontinence]


Total Incontinence


The total incontinence occurs when your bladder cannot store the urine anymore at all, and this will result in you passing large amounts of urine constantly or you may be passing urine occasionally with frequent leaking. It can be caused by:

•    bladder problem from birth
•    spinal cord injury that can disrupt the nerve signals between your brain and your bladder
•    a bladder fistula, which is a small tunnel-like hole that can form between the bladder and a nearby area, such as the vagina, in women.

Read more articles on Urinary Incontinence

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