(Incontinence, Urinary; Incontinence, Stress; Incontinence, Urge; Incontinence, Overflow; Incontinence, Functional; Stress Incontinence; Urge Incontinence; Overflow Incontinence; Functional Incontinence; Overactive Bladder)
by Brian Randall, MD
Urinary incontinence is a problem with the control of urine as it flows out of the body. It may cause rare, minor leaks or more severe wetting. There are different type of urinary incontinence including:
There are several different causes for incontinence. In some cases, the cause may be unclear.
Causes can also vary by the type of incontinence:
Men who are older than 65 are most affected.
Factors that may increase your risk of incontinence include:
Incontinence is any loss of bladder control. Examples include:
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Urinary incontinence is a symptom of a change in your body. Call your doctor if you have any loss of urine control. Your doctor can help you find the cause.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. The doctor will ask about your urine leakage and how often you empty your bladder. A physical exam will be done to look for some causes such as blockages or nerve problems.
If the cause is not clear in first exam you may be asked to to keep a diary of your urinary habits. A specialist may also be needed. Urologists are doctors who focus on urinary issues.
Tests to help find the cause of the incontinence may include:
Treating the cause may help to stop or decrease incontinence. If the cause cannot be changed, there are steps to help deal with leakage. Options include:
Some steps you can take at home include:
Other steps that may help at home include:
Losing weight may help reduce leakage due to stress or urge incontinence. Talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that is right for you.
Medications may help for urge incontinence. These types of medications can help to relax the bladder muscles.
Your doctor may also recommend botulinum toxin injections. This can also help the bladder muscle relax.
Tools that may help include:
You may need surgery if a blockage is causing the problem. The most common problem is an enlarged prostate.
Sometimes the incontinence is caused by a problem with the bladder sphincter. This sphincter is a tight group of muscle that allows urine to flow or stops urine from passing. Surgery may be needed to repair it.
To help prevent incontinence:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors Association
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Accessed December 19, 2017.
Urinary incontinence. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at:
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Updated March 2013. Accessed December 19, 2017.
Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated May 31, 2017. Accessed December 19, 2017.
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12/3/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Cardozo L, Khullar V, Wang JT, Guan Z, Sand PK. Fesoterodine in patients with overactive bladder syndrome: can the severity of baseline urgency urinary incontinence predict dosing requirement? BJU Int. 2010;106(6):816-821.
7/28/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Mangera A, Apostolidis A, Andersson KE, et al. An updated systematic review and statistical comparison of standardised mean outcomes for the use of botulinum toxin in the management of lower urinary tract disorders. Eur Urol. 2014;65(5):981-990.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 1/31/2018
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