What is Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence literally means the unintentional passing of urine. It is a very common condition and is thought to affect more than 50 million people in the world. There are two main types of urinary incontinence:
• Urge incontinence which is when urine leaks just after an urgent sensation to urinate occurs.
• Stress incontinence which is due to poor pelvic floor muscles and can cause urine to leak when you laugh or cough for example.
Urinary incontinence is much more common in women than in men. Incontinence in women is thought to be experienced by around 13% of the population whilst incontinence in men is thought to be experienced by around 5%. The good news is that there are a number of treatment options available for people suffering from the condition.
Urinary Incontinence Causes
There are a variety of urinary incontinence causes and as there are a number of different forms of urinary incontinence the causes also vary widely. As a general guideline, the most common urinary incontinence causes are below. Further information can be obtained from your doctor:
• Weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles
• Damaged urethral sphincter (the muscles that keep the urethra closed)
• Conditions affecting the urinary tract
• Conditions such as diabetes that affect the whole body
• Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
• Bladder problems
There are some further causes of incontinence too. The likelihood of a woman experiencing incontinence is increased if she experienced nerve damaged during childbirth, if she had a larger than average child that was born the natural way, if she is pregnant or if she is lacking in oestrogen. Incontinence in men is increased if erectile dysfunction is experienced or if the prostate gland has been removed. Other factors that can lead to urinary incontinence include obesity, age, depression and medication.
Urinary Incontinence Treatment
Urinary incontinence can be a very uncomfortable condition but you will be happy to know that there are a variety of treatment options available to you. The first things that a doctor will recommend are non-medication incontinence treatments including lifestyle changes such as losing weight and reducing your caffeine intake, bladder training and pelvic floor exercises.
If none of these work over a prolonged period of time your GP may prescribe medication to help. The main medications for incontinence treatment are duloxetine, oxybutynin, desmopressin and hormonal medication. Which one you are prescribed will depend on the type of urinary incontinence that you have.
If again none of the above work, the last step is urinary incontinence surgery. The procedures vary depending on the type of urinary incontinence that is experienced although the majority of surgeries are successful and can help a patient to get back to their normal day-to-day life.