Urinary incontinence is one of the most common, and yet unaddressed, medical issues. The reason for this is obvious: it’s embarrassing. Difficulties controlling the flow of urine is the very definition of a private issue, and one often rooted in shame for many people. Many people silently endure it, believing urinary incontinence is an inevitable part of old age. 

The good news is this isn’t true! Urinary incontinence is avoidable and treatable, and nothing to be embarrassed by. Here are a few different types of urinary incontinence, along with their causes. The hope of this article is to normalize what you may be experiencing, and let you know there are treatments available.


Contrary to how it sounds, this type of incontinence isn’t about your anxiety levels. Stress urinary incontinence is when the bladder muscles and pelvic floor muscles and tissues are weakened. Each time stress is placed on your bladder, urine leaks, such as when sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising. Women who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth often experience urinary incontinence, but men may experience it after having prostate surgery, and women and men may experience it due to obesity or certain medicines. 


This type of urinary incontinence is what it sounds like: an uncontrollable, seemingly out-of-nowhere urge to urinate immediately. Another term for this is an overactive bladder. Some estimates believe 30-40% of American men and women experience some form of urge incontinence, which may be caused by damage to the muscles or nerves in the bladder, or the nervous system as a whole. Another symptom of this type of incontinence is waking up at night with an urgent need to urinate. 


Whereas urge urinary incontinence involves an unexpectedly full bladder, this version involves the inability to fully empty your bladder. Overflow urinary incontinence is more common in men as one of the main causes of it is an enlarged prostate. Another cause could be damage to the urethra (urinary tract) caused by kidney stones, scarring, infections, or by the bladder descending into the abdomen, creating a blockage. 


This is the term used for incontinence caused by dementia or arthritis, when an otherwise unrelated physical ailment makes it impossible for someone to be aware of or respond to their need to urinate. 


While urinary incontinence is normal, it should also be taken seriously. Many people believe incontinence is an unavoidable part of growing older, but this isn’t true. Not only can it be treated, but also, a failure to do so could lead to a whole range of complications. In some cases incontinence could be a sign of prostate cancer or another serious blockage. In other cases a failure to fully empty the bladder could lead to urinary tract infections. 

The point is, if you are suffering from incontinence you should see a doctor right away. Here are a few possible solutions your doctor might recommend. 


Depending on what sort of urinary incontinence you’re experiencing, your doctor may have you practice “holding it” for 10 minutes after you feel the urge to pee. The goal of this is to strengthen your muscles. If you’re a woman and you’ve experienced childbirth, your doctor will probably recommend kegels, a simple strengthening exercise you can practice anywhere. 


This terms sounds a bit bizarre, but it simply means going to the bathroom, and then trying again a few minutes later. The point of this is to train your body to full, empty the bladder, and to stave off any potential infections. 


One of the potential issues when dealing with urinary incontinence is that your body’s “urine sensors” aren’t working properly. Your doctor may prescribe set bathroom trips every 3-4 hours. 


Cutting back on the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and highly acidic drinks, and losing weight may also contribute to increased bladder control. 


Mississippi Urology Clinic specializes in all sorts of incontinence struggles. We are skilled at diagnosing exactly what your struggle is, the best next steps you can take, and providing you with all the information you need to feel in control over your bladder. 

If you’ve been experiencing urinary incontinence, even if only for a short time, come see us. Set up an appointment with one of our doctors today.