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Incontinence

Types and causes

SHORCUTS What to do next FAQ
Incontinence is a common problem, involving lack of control over the passage of urine from the bladder, leading to unintentional leakages.

It can be a feature of getting older, although is also more common following pregnancy and vaginal birth, or in cases of obesity or a family history of incontinence. The four main types of urinary incontinence are:

  • Stress incontinence – in which pressure on the bladder (caused by laughing, coughing or sneezing) causes urine to leak out. Stress incontinence is usually caused by the weakening of or damage to the pelvic floor muscles and urethra, which usually prevent urination
  • Urge incontinence – leakage is accompanied by an urgent and sudden urge to urinate, caused by overactivity of the detrusor muscles controlling the bladder
  • Overflow incontinence – the bladder is not able to fully empty, which causes leaking, usually caused by a blockage or obstruction in the bladder
  • Total incontinence – the bladder cannot store any urine, causing constant or near-constant leakage. This is usually due to a congenital issue, bladder fistula, or spinal injury.

Treatment

Urinary incontinence may be successfully treated with pelvic floor exercises, which strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine, bladder training, which helps you to wait longer between the feeling of urinary urgency and the passing of urine, or lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. In all cases these treatments are guided by a specialist, and depend on the diagnosis.

Temporary relief and management of the condition can be obtained through using incontinence pads or portable urinals. Medication and surgery may also be recommended, where the symptoms cannot be managed through other means.

What to do next

Call us to make an appointment to speak to one of our specialists, who can help you figure out the best way forward.

  • 020 7323 1023Harley St Area

FAQ

What are the different types of urinary incontinence?

There are four types of stress incontinence: urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, and total incontinence. The first is caused by pelvic floor issues, the second by overactive bladder muscles, the third by a blockage in the bladder, and total incontinence is usually due to a fistula or spinal injury.

Who is most likely to be affected by incontinence?

Incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging. Women tend to experience it more than men, due to effects of pregnancy and childbirth on the bladder. Urinary incontinence in men is usually caused by prostate issues.

Can incontinence be treated without surgery?

Yes. In many cases, incontinence can be treated with pelvic floor training, physical therapy, and nerve stimulation. Minimally invasive surgical procedures are available for more serious cases.

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Please note that Walk In Clinic is a private medical centre and not an NHS service.