Understanding types of incontinence

Perhaps this has happened to you: a cough, a sneeze and... oops!

Involuntary urination is rarely talked about, but it's a condition shared by millions of people, especially women. The medical term is "urinary incontinence," and the good news is, it's treatable!

There are several types of incontinence and the most common are caused by physical stress or an overactive bladder.

Stress incontinence can be triggered by coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects or exercising. These movements put pressure on your bladder and the extra strain can result in incontinence.

Women often experience incontinence more than men because childbirth often weakens the pelvic muscles. However, obesity, smoking and pelvic surgery can also increase your risk.

Urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is a strong and immediate impulse to urinate. The condition causes your bladder to contract randomly, creating the urge to go even when the bladder isn't full. This can lead to unpredictable and often embarrassing accidents.

Temporary conditions such as a bladder infection or a chronic illness can cause urge incontinence. It also occurs more commonly as we age.

Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing but you can do something about it. Talk to you doctor about urinary incontinence. He or she can help you develop a treatment program that will work for you.

Article contributed by: Kathryn Hill, W.H.N.P, Board Certified
Providence Continence Center