Urinary incontinence (UI) is the unintentional passing of urine. UI is a common condition that
affects millions of people worldwide.
UI includes several types including:
- Stress incontinence – when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under
pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh
- Urge incontinence – when you feel a sudden and intense desire to pass urine and you
feel that urine leaks
- Overflow incontinence – you experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that does not empty completely.
- Functional incontinence – a physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet in time. For example, if you have any condition affecting the rapidity of your
movement or the ability to use your hands, you may not be able to reach washroom or
remove your clothes.
- Mixed incontinence – sometimes you suffer from more than one of the above types of
Stress incontinence is usually caused by some issues of the muscles of the pelvic floor and
urinary sphincter. Those muscles are used to prevent urination. They might be weaker or
Urge incontinence is usually the result of increased contractions (called “overactivity”) of the
bladder muscles (detrusor muscles).
Overflow incontinence is often caused by the presence of partial or complete obstruction of the bladder. In this scenario, the bladder cannot empty fully.
Pregnancy and vaginal birth, obesity and ageing can increase the chances of urinary incontinence developing.
Initially, your Urologist may suggest some simple measures to see if they help improve your symptoms such as lifestyle changes (including losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol), pelvic floor exercises (exercising your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing them, taught by a specialist) and bladder training (where you learn ways to wait longer between needing to urinate and passing urine, guided by a specialist).
Besides, there are many products used to prevent incontinence that can be used. Absorbent
pads and handheld urinals may help you in specific situations.
After an initial assessment, the urologist might prescribe you specific medications especially if
symptoms are not managed as expected.
Surgery may also be considered. The suitable surgical procedure depends first of all on the specific type of incontinence the patient is diagnosed with.
Surgical treatments for stress incontinence include the use of tape and slings to reduce pressure on the bladder or strengthen the muscles involved in the urination process.
Operations to treat urge incontinence include injection of botulinum toxin directly in the muscles of an “overactive” bladder when medications failed, bladder augmentation, implantation of devices that help specific nerves stimulate detrusor muscles.