Urinary Incontinence: Overview

Urinary incontinence is leakage of urine from loss of bladder control (leakages of feces is called fecal incontinence). Urinary incontinence is very common, particularly in women after pregnancy and childbirth. Incontinence can also occur in men, most commonly related to prostate enlargement. There are different types of urinary incontinence: urge incontinence, stress incontinence, and severe incontinence. Urge incontinence causes a sudden unexpected and overwhelming urge to urinate, often caused by an unstable bladder or prostatic enlargement (in men). Stress incontinence is urine leakage from actions that cause physical stress, such as sneezing, lifting children, laughing, etc. Causes of stress incontinence include pelvic floor weakness from childbirth, obesity, constipation, chronic cough, post-menopausal estrogen deficiency, or other causes. Severe forms of urinary incontinence involve varying inability to sense or control urination, often from serious disease or injury, such as spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, bladder surgery, spina bifida, and other congenital defects.

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