Urinary Incontinence

If you have urinary leakage, it’s time to talk to a doctor about your treatment options.


Urinary incontinence is the loss of urinary control. More than 15 million Americans experience this regularly, and while it can affect men or women of any age, it is most common in women over 40. It has been estimated that 35% of women over 65 experience some form of urinary leakage. Many people think that this is “just part of getting older”.

While it is true that incontinence occurs more commonly in older patients, it is not necessarily an inevitable part of aging. The urinary bladder provides two functions: storing urine and emptying urine. Many factors may be involved in the development of incontinence, particularly any medical condition that affects the muscles of the pelvis or the nerves going to these muscles. Urologists broadly categorize incontinence into two classes: Stress Incontinence and Urge Incontinence. While the two classes share some similarities, they are treated by very different approaches; so careful evaluation is important.

Stress Incontinence is leakage that occurs when physical pressure or “stress” is placed on the bladder and leakage of urine results. These people will leak when they cough, laugh, sneeze, or lift heavy objects. Such activities put strain or pressure on the bladder. This pressure on a bladder full of urine can overcome the watertight seal of the bladder’s valve (sphincter) and result in leakage.

Urge Incontinence is leakage that occurs when a person is unable to suppress the urge to urinate. Individuals will describe that the urge to urinate comes on suddenly and that they “just cannot hold it.” This is usually caused by spasms or hyperactivity of the bladder, and is often referred to as “overactive bladder.” Frequent daytime and nighttime urination often accompanies urge incontinence. Many of the causes of urge incontinence are poorly understood, but some have been well identified, including diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and other neurologic diseases.