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Urinary Incontinence – Overview

Karyn Eilber, MD Karyn Eilber, MD February 7, 2021
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"Urinary incontinence is any involuntary loss of urine. Depending on what groups of people studied, the prevalence of urinary incontinence in women ranges anywhere from 15 to 69% versus only five to 24% in men. The two most common types of urinary incontinence are stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence refers to physical stress and is associated with something that increases the abdominal pressure, such as coughing, laughing, seizing, and exercising. Urge incontinence is incontinence associated with an overwhelming urge to urinate, often referred to as overactive bladder. Functional incontinence occurs when someone either doesn't know they need to go to the restroom or they simply cannot get there. Mixed incontinence is most common a combination of symptoms of stress and urge incontinence. Incontinence occurs commonly with increasing age, but other risk factors include vaginal delivery and certain medical conditions. Because incontinence is so common, gradual onset is usually not associated with an underlying medical condition.

However, urinary incontinence that occurs in children that have already been potty trained, young men, and young women who have not had vaginal childbirth should raise suspicion for a neurologic condition. The most common symptom of stress incontinence is leakage with coughing, laughing, sneezing and exercising, while urge urinary incontinence is associated with urinary urgency and frequency. The causes of incontinence include increasing age, prior vaginal childbirth, hormonal changes such as those associated with menopause, prior pelvic surgeries, pelvic radiation and medical conditions that can affect nerve function such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and stroke, to name a few. Although women more commonly experience incontinence because of the reasons listed, men who have an enlarged prostate or who have had prostatectomy are also at increased risk for incontinence. Obesity can also contribute to urinary incontinence."

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