Urinary Incontinence or UI is basically a loss of bladder control. It is a common problem found in women wherein unintentional loss of urine can be occasional or serious, caused by various factors. UI can be treated with a number of treatments depending upon its causes and severity.
Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the involuntary or unintentional leakage of urine. It is a common and
treatable problem. The factors like age, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, weakened control over the urinary
sphincter contribute majorly to involuntary loss of urine. The severity of UI differs from person to person
and can vary in the range from occasionally leaking the urine when one coughs or sneezes to regularly having
a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate.
The following are the factors that increase the risk of developing urinary incontinence -
If UI runs in the family or a close relative has urinary incontinence, the chances or risk of developing UI increases.
Inability to control the bladder and involuntary leakage of urine can happen as the muscles in the bladder and urethra start losing their strength and weaken with age. Hence, old age is considered a common risk factor for UI. Along with these common problems, some diseases and conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, spinal cord injury, and neurologic diseases can also increase the risk of UI.
Urinary incontinence can be found in both men and women; however, it is most commonly found in women as factors like normal female anatomy, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause increase the risk of UI.
Obesity or extra weight adds pressure on the bladder and its surrounding muscles, weakening them. This increases the risk of involuntary leakage of urine when one coughs or sneezes.
The continuous usage of tobacco as well as a chronic cough, a side-effect of smoking, may result in episodes of
incontinence and increase the risk of urinary incontinence.
In this type of incontinence, urine leaks when the pressure is added or increased on the bladder by sudden movements or physical activities. The term “stress” here refers to added physical pressure on the bladder and muscles involved in urinary control. Loss of urine happens in such cases because the actions or movements make weak pelvic floor muscles add pressure on the bladder & urethra and work them harder.
The following physical movements or sudden actions are symptoms/ triggers for stress incontinence -
In this common type of incontinence, unintentional leakage of urine happens during or after a strong, sudden, and uncontrollable urge to urinate. During such intense urges, one may not always necessarily reach the bathroom in time, and in most cases, if she does, she is not able to urinate much. In urge incontinence, one may feel the need to urinate frequently like 8 or more times a day or throughout the night when it is least expected. It is also called an “overactive bladder.”
The following are the triggers for urge incontinence -
In this type of incontinence, constant leakage or loss of urine in small amounts is experienced. This constant
dribbling happens due to the inability to empty the bladder completely or obstruction/ blockage to the
In this type of incontinence, loss of urine happens due to a lack of control over the bladder. In total
incontinence, the bladder is unable to store urine, resulting in episodes of unintentional leakage of urine
wherein the one person leaks urine continuously or has periodic uncontrollable leaking of large amounts of
The following are the triggers for total incontinence -
In this type of incontinence, urine leakage happens as a result of the inability to reach the bathroom in time
and other such issues due to mental or physical impairment.
Many women experience this type of incontinence. As the name suggests, it is a combination of different types
of incontinence. Most commonly, mixed incontinence refers to a combination of stress incontinence and urge
The symptoms and causes for this type of incontinence are those of stress as well as urge incontinence.
It is important to understand the cause/s and type of incontinence to determine the right and most suitable treatment option. During a health checkup, the doctor will discuss your symptoms, pattern, and medical history to understand and determine the type of incontinence and treatment. You may also have to go through a physical examination wherein you will be asked to do certain movements or activities like coughing to determine the type, symptoms, and type of incontinence and demonstrate the same.
If the type and treatment is not defined and decided upon in the initial health checkup, you may be asked
to go through the following tests -
You will be asked to record your fluid intake, how much and how many times you urinate, patterns, urges, and other such factors.
The sample of your urine will be taken to check the signs of infection and other such causes of incontinence.
Images of kidneys, bladder etc. will be taken with the help of an ultrasound wand to detect unusual symptoms or activities that may be causing urinary incontinence.
During this test, you will be asked to try different positions and movements like coughing as the doctor checks for urine loss.
In this test, a thin tube with a tiny camera will be inserted into the urethra and bladder to look for unusual symptoms, damage etc. Depending upon the type of test, local or general anesthesia will be given.
During this test, pressure in the bladder and the flow of urine will be checked with the help of various
Dr. Ashit Shah is a senior consultant Urologist heading Aashray Urology Institute. After completing his M.B.B.S. and M.S. in General Surgery, he was awarded Diplomate of National Board (D.N.B.) in Genito-Urinary Surgery by the National Board of Examinations, New Delhi. He earned his Diplomate in Laparoscopic Urology from Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France in the year 2006. Dr. Shah has a special interest in Endo-Urology, especially Urolithiasis i.e. Urinary Stone Disease. Having spent more than 27 years in the profession of Urology, he has experience of over 75,000 urological consultations and more than 15,000 surgeries. Being counted amongst the torch bearers of ethical and transparent medical practice in the city of Vadodara, he was conferred ‘Inspiring Urologist Award’ for the year 2019 by The Economic Times.