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Incontinence Definition

Incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of bladder or bowel control. It affects over 200 million people worldwide, and is erroneously thought to be a normal part of aging.

Types of Incontinence & Their Symptoms

There are various types of incontinence, which are all characterized by different symptoms. The major forms of incontinence include:

Stress Incontinence

This form of incontinence can occur as a result of being overweight. The extra weight around the midsection puts pressure on the bladder, which makes it difficult to restrain urine from escaping the bladder. You might also experience leakage while laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence.

Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)

OAB, or urge incontinence is characterized by the constant feeling of having to “go.” Causes of urge incontinence include a weakened pelvis (in women), recent prostate surgery (for men), urinary tract infections, or pre-existing medical conditions, such as stroke, dementia, Spina Bifida, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, or multiple sclerosis.

Overflow Incontinence

This condition occurs when the body sends an insufficient signal to the brain for timely response to urinary demands. Symptoms include a delay in sensing urinary urges, or not sensing them at all.

Fecal Incontinence

Similar to overflow incontinence in nature and symptoms, though its effects are pronounced through the bowels.

Additional Info on Incontinence Causes, Types & Symptoms

While there are some similarities between female and male incontinence, symptoms and causes can be somewhat different.

Mr. & Ms. Silhouette Doing The Dry Pants Dance

Female Incontinence

Most of those who are affected by incontinence are women. A study conducted at the University of Washington indicates that incontinence affects 28% of women ages 30 to 39, 41% of those ages 40 to 49, and almost half of all women 50 and older.

Weakened pelvic muscles can contribute to incontinence in women, as these muscles are responsible for keeping the urethra closed. This ultimately leads to leakage, and involuntary urination. Another common cause of incontinence among younger women is pregnancy. After childbirth, the combination of hormonal changes, pressure on the bladder, and exertion during childbirth can weaken the pelvic muscle, which can lead to incontinence. Incontinence is also common in women during menopause, when hormonal levels affect the muscles around the pelvis.

Male Incontinence

Millions of men suffer from incontinence each year. Unlike women, whose incontinence can affect during all age ranges, incontinence in men mostly affects older men suffering from other, preexisting medical conditions. According to a study done in the UK, 5% to 7% of men under 64 and 10% to 20% of men over 64 experience some kind of urinary leakage.

A swollen prostate is one very common cause of incontinence among men; this gland grows in almost all men as they age and in some cases, the enlargement can become troublesome. Another very common factor for incontinence is having prostate surgery. Immediately following the surgery, your muscles are often temporarily weaker, which can cause stress incontinence. Other causes include urinary tract infections often cause an overactive bladder, being overweight which puts additional pressure on your bladder, and pre-existing medical conditions particularly strokes, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spina bifida, MS or diabetes.