What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence involves the involuntary leakage of urine. This is divided into different types: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and mixed incontinence.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) involves leakage of urine when there is an increase in the intra-abdominal pressure. This occurs in activities such as coughing, sneezing and laughing.
It can be caused by:
- A weakness of the pelvic floor muscles
- A tear, softening or stretching of the supporting fascia(connective tissue) supporting the bladder/uterus
- A problem with the urethral sphincter system
Urge incontinence is incontinence associated with a feeling of urgency. Urgency is a sudden compelling, difficult to defer urge to urinate. It is like a light switch where you change from no desire to urinate to a sudden intense desire to urinate. It is different from a strong desire to urinate, which feels uncomfortable but you can hold on if you need to.
Urge incontinence can be triggered by:
- Irritants such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol
- Hearing running water, washing your hands, anxiety
- Overactive detrusor (bladder muscle)
Mixed incontinence is a combination of the above two types, with symptoms of both types.
Because there are different causes of the one problem, a thorough assessment is required to work out the best management and treatment for you.