Urinary incontinence occurs when the normal process of storing and passing urine is disrupted. This can happen for a number of reasons.
Certain factorsmay also increase your chance of developing urinary incontinence.
Some of the possible causes lead to short-term urinary incontinence, while others may cause a long-term problem. If the cause can be treated, this may cure your incontinence.
Stress incontinenceoccurs when the pressure inside your bladder as it fills with urine becomes greater than the strength of your urethra to stay closed. The urethra is the tube urine passes throughout of your body.
Any sudden extra pressure on your bladder, such as laughing or sneezing, can then cause urine to leak out of your urethra.
Your urethra may not be able to stay closed if the muscles in your pelvis (pelvic floor muscles) are weak or damaged, or your urethral sphincter the ring of muscle that keeps the urethra closedis damaged.
These problems may be caused by:
The urgent and frequent need to pass urine can be caused by a problem with the detrusor muscles in the walls of the bladder.
The detrusor muscles relax to allow the bladder to fill with urine, then contract when you go to the toilet to let the urine out.
Sometimes the detrusor muscles contract too often, creating an urgent need to go to the toilet. This isknown ashaving an overactive bladder.
The reason yourdetrusor muscles contract too often may not be clear, but possible causes include:
Overflow incontinence, also called chronic urinary retention, is often caused by a blockage or obstructionof your bladder.
Your bladder may fill up as usual, but as it's obstructed you won't be able to empty it completely, even when you try.
At the same time, pressure from the urine that's still in your bladder builds up behind the obstruction, causing frequent leaks.
Your bladder can become obstructed as a result of:
Overflow incontinence may also be caused by your detrusor muscles not fully contracting, which means your bladder doesn't completely empty when you go to the toilet. As a result, the bladder becomes stretched.
Your detrusor muscles may not fully contract if:
Total incontinence occurs when your bladder can't store any urine at all. It can result in you either passing large amounts of urine constantly, or passing urine occasionally with frequent leaking.
Total incontinence can be caused by:
Some medicines can disrupt the normal process of storing and passing urine, or increase the amount of urine you produce.
Stopping these medications, if advised to do so by a doctor, may help resolve your incontinence.
In addition to the causes mentioned above, some things can increase your risk of developing urinary incontinence without directly being the cause of the problem. These are known as risk factors.
Some of the main risk factors for urinary incontinence include:
Read about urinary incontinence, which is the unintentional passing of urine. It's a common problem that's thought to affect millions of people worldwide.
Read about the symptoms of urinary incontinence. Having urinary incontinence means you pass urine unintentionally.
Read about the causes of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence occurs when the normal process of storing and passing urine is disrupted.
Read about diagnosing urinary incontinence. If you experience urinary incontinence, see your GP so they can determine the type of condition you have.
Read about non-surgical treatments for urinary incontinence. The treatment you receive will depend on the type of incontinence you have and the severity of your symptoms.
Read about surgical procedures for urinary incontinence, which may be recommended if other treatments are unsuccessful or unsuitable.