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If you live with urinary incontinence, you should not resign yourself to it as a fact of life or sign of aging. While all people experiencing urinary incontinence experience it as a lack of bladder control resulting in some level of urinary leakage, it is usually a symptom of something else. In other words, it is a symptom of a larger condition.

Because of that, it is often possible to reduce the risks of developing it as well as remedying the situation if it does occur. While there are some treatments that may effectively eliminate it for some, they may not work as well for others. And while there are definitely surgical treatments designed to address urinary incontinence, there are also a lot of non-surgical treatments available.

To understand how they work, though, it is necessary to understand how urinary incontinence occurs, as well.

What Happens with Urinary Incontinence?

We think of urinary incontinence as leaking urine, but it is the result of a series of glitches or malfunctions in the urinary tract. Our bodies send waste fluids to the bladder, which is an organ with muscles and nerves. We know when it is full because it expands and puts pressure on the sphincter that holds it closed at the bottom.

Early in life we don’t have control over the function of the bladder and will release urine when the bladder is full. Later, we learn how to control this sphincter and only contract the bladder, opening the sphincter, and releasing urine into the urethra, allowing urine to pass out of the body.

With urinary incontinence, we lose our ability to control that bladder contraction fully and for many reasons, urine may pass into the urethra without our willing it to happen. The reasons are often described as the “type” of incontinence we experience. For example, the most commonly discussed types are:

  • Stress incontinence which is when “the pressure inside your bladder as it fills with urine becomes greater than the strength of your urethra to stay closed”. Added pressure caused by coughing or even laughing may cause a urine leak.
  • Urge incontinence is when there is an “urgent and frequent need to pass urine…caused by a problem with the detrusor muscles in the walls of the bladder”. The muscles will contract too frequently, making you feel you must get to the toilet, and often fail to make it because the sensation happens only briefly before urine leaks or flows
  • Overflow incontinence is when the “bladder may fill up as usual, but as it’s obstructed you won’t be able to empty it completely, even when you try… At the same time, pressure from the urine that’s still in your bladder builds up behind the obstruction, causing frequent leaks”
  • Mixed incontinence is when you experience both urge and stress incontinence.

As you can surmise, there are different remedies for such varied causes for urinary leakage.

Basic Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Before any sort of non-surgical treatments can be used, you must meet with a physician to discuss the symptoms. Many people refrain from doing so out of embarrassment or an erroneous belief that they “should” have the issue because of something else (such as childbirth, prostate surgery, aging, and so on). However, by talking about the condition and type of urinary incontinence with a physician, they can often work with you to develop effective, non-surgical plans.

These will usually start with the most conservative, non-surgical treatments for urinary incontinence, including:

  • Lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, eliminating caffeine and alcohol, increasing fiber intake, and so on. Losing weight and increasing daily activity may also be part of the non-surgical treatment because many people experience urinary incontinence simply from being overweight and/or eating a diet that causes constipation. Constipation can actually put pressure on the bladder and cause leakage.
  • Pelvic floor muscle work – Many people are aware of exercises known as Kegels, and while they are used to enhance sexual experiences by some, they are also quite remarkable for improving the muscles that support the bladder and urethra. As one expert noted, “Weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles can cause urinary incontinence, so exercising these muscles is often recommended”. Naturally, the strength of the muscles will be assessed and then you will be taught how to perform them. Most programs involve three sessions a day of eight or fewer kegel squeezes. Outlines for performing them can be found here for women, and here for men. Electrical stimulators are available for those who are unable to do Kegels and involves the use of a specialty device that “measures and stimulates the electrical signals in the muscles” and may help strengthen them.
  • Bladder training – This is used for young people who struggle to overcome bedwetting, but it is effective as a non-surgical treatment for urinary incontinence, as well. It is often combined with muscle exercises and involves nothing more than increasing the length of time between experiencing an urge to urinate and allowing urine to pass. It may also involve controlled fluid intake that gets the body on a very fixed routine of urine production and release.

In addition to these effective remedies, many will be prescribed medications if they apply to the underlying cause of the incontinence. There are medications for most of the causes, and these may be a last resort before using surgical interventions.

Of course, in addition to the use of non-surgical techniques, there are also many incontinence products that make it far easier to live with mild to even heavy leakage. These include incontinence undergarments that are remarkably discreet, reliable and effective, pads and shields, skin care products, and devices that may be placed inside of the urethra (such as catheters), to control urine flow.

The impact of urinary incontinence on quality of life cannot be ignored. Many living with this issue refrain from socializing out of embarrassment or fear. The steps outlined above can alleviate those fears and eliminate them almost entirely when combined with incontinence products. Though it may end up being an untreatable condition, it is never a condition you cannot enjoy a normal life with.

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If you are eager to understand more about the condition known as “stress incontinence,” you must first understand the more general meaning of incontinence. Generally, incontinence is defined as an “inability of the body to control the evacuative functions of urination or defecation : partial or complete loss of bladder or bowel control”.

As one might then imagine, incontinence can be caused by a long list of issues. For example, medical experts point to the following:

  • UTI or urinary tract infection
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Hysterectomy
  • Prostate issues
  • Smoking
  • Weight
  • Anxiety
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Bladder problems, such as infections and bladder stones
  • Certain medications, among other issues

They also break incontinence into five different “types” that include:

  1. Urge – Often called overactive bladder or OAB, it is manifested as an urge to urinate whether the bladder is full or empty
  2. Mixed – A combination of urge and stress incontinence types
  3. Overflow – An inability to fully empty the bladder causes urinary leaks when the bladder is full
  4. Functional – This is often due to a medical condition that prevents an adequate amount of time to reach the bathroom (e., those with arthritis may be unable to move quickly enough to reach the bathroom)
  5. Stress – This is when you leak urine whenever you cough, lift something, workout or exercise, sneeze, or even laugh. Essentially, anything that causes pressure to the bladder will allow it to leak.

It is that last type, stress incontinence that we will focus on for the remainder of this article.

The Basics

Stress incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine when you are doing physical activity or caused by something putting pressure on the bladder, this means it is not nerve related or due to psychological stress (which many automatically think of when they hear the term “stress”).

It can occur in both genders, but is more common among women, usually because of issues relating to overuse or challenges in the pelvic floor area. For example, a woman who has given birth (whether cesarean or naturally) may struggle with bladder control issues and find that she experiences stress incontinence whenever she sneezes or lifts heavy items.

Generally speaking, stress incontinence is due to weakening of the muscles and/or tissues that support the bladder, also called pelvic floor muscles, weaken. Our bladders grow as they fill with urine, and the urethra remains tightly closed to hold the urine in until we consciously release it. Muscle weakening though, allows any pressure on the bladder to let urine out.

And while we looked at many causes for incontinence, many people must also consider that certain risk factors apply and may contribute to the development of stress incontinence. Age, body weight, the type of childbirth a woman experiences, and any surgical procedures on the pelvis can play a role.

What to Do About Stress Incontinence

Whether male or female, it is an embarrassing and unpredictable issue, and so yet it is quite treatable. Let’s first look at the basic symptoms that might help you determine if the urinary incontinence you are experiencing is, in fact, stress incontinence.

Typically, a person living with or developing stress incontinence will leak urine whenever they:

  • Stand up quickly
  • Lift heavy items
  • Exercise or run
  • Cough hard
  • Sneeze
  • Laugh hard
  • Engage in sexual intercourse

Often, stress incontinence occurs with one or more of these activities, but may be limited to something unlisted, something as simple as a pet climbing on your lap may cause you to contract the muscles of the abdomen and leak urine due to the pressure increase on the bladder.

Of course, the fullness of the bladder may also have an impact on the condition, and you may not leak urine until your bladder has reached a fuller level.

There will, naturally, come a time when you recognize that something must be done about it. While there are simple pads and shields and a myriad of other incontinence products to protect you from embarrassing situations, you must first visit a doctor and rule out any medical issues. After all, as we saw earlier, stress incontinence is often paired with urge incontinence, and this can be medically related.

Visiting a doctor will allow the physician to look at your medical history, provide a physical exam that considers any issues with the abdominal area and the genitals, and ensure a urine sample is tested for such things as blood, infection and so on. Your doctor may also have you do a urinary stress test that checks to see if you do leak urine when you consciously bear down on the pelvic muscles.

When a medical issue is suspected, your doctor may order any number of bladder function tests that include measuring residual urine via catheter once your bladder is entirely empty. They may also do an ultrasound of the bladder. They may ask for a cystometry test that examines the pressure in the bladder, a cystoscopy to consider if there are cysts in the bladder, or even urodynamics testing to watch how the bladder behaves at all times.

Treatments Available for Stress Incontinence

There is no single treatment for stress incontinence simply because there is no single cause. For most people, it ends up being a number of steps to help overcome or live with the condition. These include:

  • Behavioral therapies – These may involve daily pelvic floor training, such as kegel muscle exercises or the use of biofeedback. Scheduled fluid consumption to avoid bladder over-fullness, lifestyle changes like smoking cessation or dieting, and bladder training programs
  • Medical intervention – There are some medical devices, such as urethral inserts and vaginal pessaries that can be used, and surgical options can include the use of bulking agents in the area around the urethra, procedures to reinforce certain tissues, artificial sphincter implants, or mesh slings to support the urethra
  • At home options – Many find that weight loss, changes to the diet (particularly if living with constipation), skipping beverages that might irritate the bladder and smoking cessation all work well. Kegel exercises or pelvic floor work can also be of benefit to most.

Almost any can experience stress incontinence, and if you feel you may be experiencing it, a visit to your physician is a wise choice. Talk with them about any possible health issues, and then use whatever remedies they recommend, as well as those outlined above.

Urinary incontinence is often described with words like “embarrassing” or “uncontrollable,” and these terms are part of the reason that almost all types of urinary incontinence fail to be reported quickly. In fact, it is not unusual for someone with symptoms of urinary leakage to wait an average of six years before consulting with a medical professional about it.

Yet, regardless of when it is reported and addressed, it should never be viewed as a “condition” on its own. Urinary incontinence is typically a symptom of something else going on. When it occurs in men, it is usually due to:

  • Prostate issues
  • Diseases
  • Surgery
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • UTI
  • Constipation
  • Chronic cough
  • Lifestyle choices

In addition to this long list of causes, there are also ways that urinary incontinence will manifest in men. It can be:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence
  • Mixed incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence
  • Functional incontinence

Treating urinary incontinence as a symptom of something else will involve first identifying the underlying cause and seeing if it can be eliminated or remedied. Then, the urinary incontinence can be dealt with more effectively through non-surgical as well as surgical interventions.

No matter how it is addressed, though, one of the most important elements in living with this issue is investing in the right incontinence products designed specifically for men. As one expert noted, “Lots of men hate the idea of using incontinence products — so-called adult diapers, urine collection bags, and catheters. But if you’re having a problem with male incontinence, these products can really help.”

After all, if you want to eliminate those words mentioned at the opening of this article (embarrassing and uncontrollable) from your vocabulary, one of the simplest ways to do that is through the use of incontinence products for men. They prevent the “accidents”, the odors, the discomfort and all of the other issues associated with urinary incontinence.

The Basic Products for Men

What sort of incontinence products for men are recommended? The most useful include:

  • Pads and shields – Used on bedding, furniture and even a car seat, they are able to capture any leaks, moisture and odor. There are also pads and shields for undergarments that are great at wicking moisture from the skin, preventing irritation and odor and ensuring that no one even knows you are wearing protection
  • Underwear – There are also full-sized garments designed specifically for men with padding and “zones” in the ideal spots for the male body. These will vary in size, style, and design, with options for reusable and disposable always available. Some feature drip collectors and other specialty regions for heavier leaking or longer wear.
  • Catheters – Many men with incontinence issues find that external catheters are quite effective. They are not inserted into the urethra but are instead slipped over the penis and are made of silicone or latex. They fit almost as snugly as a condom but have small tubes with collection bags at the end, and any urinary leakage is captured by the bag. Some wear them exclusively at night to ensure they are getting adequate and undisturbed sleep, while others will wear them throughout the day to enjoy the most worry-free
  • External compression – Another term for these urinary incontinence products are penile clamps, which is a bit misleading. They are not as brutally clamp-like as their name sounds. Instead, most are made of easy to use and comfortable to wear foam. They put a small amount of pressure over the end of the penis, effectively pinching the urethra closed enough to prevent urinary leaks. They are not the most comfortable, but most who use them say that they are not uncomfortable, either.
  • Portable urinals – Many men with urinary incontinence also feel better about the issue when they know they don’t have to race to the toilet at the moment the urge to urinate strikes. This is why toilet substitutes like hand-held, plastic urinals are popular. They can capture a large amount of fluid, trap odor and ensure peace of mind.

Making Plans to Use Male Urinary Incontinence Products

As already noted, many men are unhappy at the thought of using any of these male urinary incontinence products. For some, it can be due to the simple fact that they do not wish to enter a store and purchase something like a package of adult diapers or shields for their bed.

The good news is that real-world shopping for these items is no longer required. The era of the internet has made it easier, and often far less costly, to do all of the purchasing online. Preferred products can be purchased in single packages or cost-effective cases, discreetly delivered, and many options can be explored through online resources.

If it is more a matter of “resigning” oneself to the use of items like male adult diapers, bed underpads, external catheters and deodorizers, it is understandable. Many people feel a bit defeated by the use of incontinence products, and worry that once they rely on them, they will never return to the days of living without them.

The first thing to remember is that you must see a doctor if experiencing male urinary incontinence. They will go over symptoms, do an exam and help determine the right treatment plan. It could be that some exercises and bladder training make such improvements that male urinary incontinence products are a temporary resource.

If the condition causing incontinence cannot be overcome, it is of the utmost importance to look at the male urinary incontinence products as one of the most important resources over the long term.

Why? They improve your quality of life from the moment you begin to use them. They enable you to socialize, do the kinds of activities you have always enjoyed, and live without constant worry about where you will find the nearest toilet. Take a car trip, go for a walk or a long game of golf, play with the kids, wear those snug-fitting clothes because male urinary incontinence products can work with you and allow you to confidently enjoy your life as you did before bladder issues occurred.

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A 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control entitled “Prevalence of Incontinence Among Older Americans,” detailed some surprising statistics. However, the report used a data set that made it impossible to supply any sort of averages because the data was sourced from:

  • 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) using in-home interviews with non-institutionalized participants
  • 2010 National Survey of Residential Care Facilities (NSRCF) using reports provided by designated facility or agency staff members for 6,856 residential care facility and/or residents
  • 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey (NHHCS) using data from 3,226 current home health care patients, and 3,918 hospice discharges
  • 2009 Long Term Care Minimum Data Set (MDS) using data supplied by 2,416,705 nursing home residents

Response rates varied from 84% to 99%, and many medical groups took the reports apart and offered summary data to clarify the findings.

According to the team over at WebMD, the CDC report explained that more than half of all older Americans deal with some level of incontinence. Citing one statement from the research team, they explained that “half the population experienced urinary leakage or accidental bowel leakage, and about 25 percent had moderate, severe or very severe urinary leakage. And about 8 percent had moderate, severe or very severe bowel leakage.”

This far more than many might expect, especially because the impact of incontinence can be quite debilitating. After all, it has emotional, social, health and economic effects on those living with it. And because it does vary, it is helpful to take a few moments now to go over just what incontinence means if we are also to understand the many ways it affects older Americans managing it or living with it.

What is Incontinence?

A dictionary definition of incontinence says it is “inability of the body to control the evacuative functions of urination or defecation: partial or complete loss of bladder or bowel control”. It is caused by an astonishing list of issues, often more than a single issue, and when it is urinary incontinence, it can be described using five different types or categories:

  • Stress – This is quite common and is NOT due to emotional stress but to physical strain such as coughing, lifting, or even pressure applied to the abdomen
  • Urge – This is the type that many know as overactive bladder and which presents as a powerful urge to urinate only briefly before it is needed or even when the bladder is empty
  • Mixed – This is a common issue and is a combination of the two types above
  • Overflow – This is when the bladder cannot fully empty and results in bladder leakage as it refills
  • Functional – This is incontinence that is a direct result of any issue that prevents adequate time or capability to reach the bathroom, e., a leg issue may cause incontinence because it is so difficult to get to the bathroom quickly

Urinary incontinence has many causes, but most relate to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and urethra. Additionally, overactive muscles may cause the condition, too.

Is it just a part of aging? No. In one summary report on the CDC investigation, “Dr. Tomas Griebling, a professor of urology at the University of Kansas and a spokesman for the American Urology Association, said incontinence increases with age,” but that it should not be viewed as inevitable or normal.

The CDC report said as much, pointing out that the percentages of adults with incontinence issues has maintained a flat line or remained the same. However, Dr. Griebling also explained that the aging of the current population signifies that there will be more with the condition in the future.

For example, those queried for the report who still lived in their homes demonstrated that over 50% had bladder and/or bowel incontinence (44% had bladder issues). Those in nursing facilities had similar rates.

Diagnosis is Important

Sadly, because many think that it is a simple part of aging, many do not get properly tested to determine the background cause, and if it relates to a medical condition or another issue. For example, at the first signs of bowel or bladder leaking, it is crucial to visit a physician.

This enables them to perform the proper physical exams, book the appropriate tests, ask questions about symptoms, and even do a review of medication regimens a patient might be using, and which could be a source of the problem. More in-depth testing may be required to examine how well a patient can empty the bladder, and whether there are any signs of cysts or infection. If a doctor suspects something other than pelvic floor muscle weakening, they may recommend a visit to a specialist known as a urologist.

Dealing with Incontinence

While there are medical interventions that can help, there are also many at-home remedies and incontinence products that can be used before any more extreme steps, such as surgery. For example, men and women alike can perform pelvic muscle exercises. These can be done by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles as if you were attempting to cut off a stream of urine or hold intestinal gas. Hold the muscles for a count of three, but as the National Institutes for Health warn, “Repeat, but don’t overdo. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 3. Then relax for a count of 3. Work up to 10 to 15 repeats each time you exercise”. Do them three times a day and you will start to feel changes.

You can also use “timed voiding” that sets your consumption of fluids and urination on a very fixed routine. Combining pelvic floor training, timed voiding, and alternatives like biofeedback can often produce profound improvements for an older adult. Lifestyle changes like cutting out caffeine, eating more fiber, shedding extra weight and smoking cessation are also extremely helpful. Incontinence may be wildly prevalent, but it is not inevitable. See a doctor as soon as you notice signs of the issue and work with them to develop a plan to reduce the issues or even end them.







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Urinary incontinence ranks as one of the most under-reported symptoms among both men and women alike. This is due to a few basic misunderstandings:

  1. That urine leakage is something that is embarrassing or shameful
  2. That urinary incontinence is an unavoidable sign of the aging process or childbirth
  3. That there are no remedies for urinary incontinence
  4. That products to remediate urinary incontinence are noticeable, uncomfortable, unreliable, and so on

The good news is that none of these assumptions are correct and that the myths of urinary continence contribute to its negative effects on quality of life.

A report in the Global Library of Women’s Medicine said as much, concluding that “there are multiple facets of urinary incontinence that have the potential to affect health-related quality of life…The disorder may affect emotional and social facets and may also have an impact on activities of daily living and role fulfillment. Given the growing evidence of psychosocial impact, physicians caring for [patients] with urinary incontinence should become familiar with health-related quality of life assessments.”

Now, that is a tidy, but clinically phrased explanation of the realities of urinary incontinence on the individual’s mindset. Let’s consider it in more accessible terms.

As another scientific report explained: “If you’ve ever found yourself passing up an opportunity to go out with friends, go for a walk in the park with your kids or take a long road trip because of your overactive bladder or urinary incontinence, you’re not alone.

Over 25 million adults in the United States are dealing with the same issue, but you’ll most likely never hear anyone talk about it.”

In fact, this same report indicates that most people with urinary incontinence will wait an astonishing six years before seeking out any sort of diagnosis of treatment. Yet, “working with your doctor to find a solution can help you live a full, happy and active life without the dreaded fear of an unpredictable bladder accident.”

It would seem that fear is a driving force behind the harmful effects so many with urinary incontinence experience. So, let’s start with a look at the ways millions of others with urinary incontinence have tackled their fears and improved their quality of life.

What Are You Afraid Of?

Knowledge is power, they tell us, and where any sort of urinary incontinence is concerned, it is entirely true. The first thing to know in order to improve your quality of life is this:

  • You are not alone – millions of other people have the identical struggle. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s National Institutes of Health say that 500 million people (of all ages and backgrounds) around the world have urinary incontinence

So, don’t think of this as something you must suffer with in silence and isolation. There are support groups, online and real-world, as well as books, websites, and other resources to use to feel a bit better about this change in your body’s behaviors.

However, before you resign yourself to urinary incontinence, there is another thing to know, and it may be responsible for greatly improving your health and quality of life. It is that:

  • Urinary incontinence is most often a symptom and NOT a condition. It is usually caused by something else.

This means that you must get in touch with a physician at the first sign of urinary incontinence to allow them to help you identify the “type” of incontinence. Why? Because this is often an indicator of the underlying cause.

The different types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress
  • Urge
  • Mixed
  • Overflow
  • Functional
  • Temporary

Each of these types of urinary incontinence is caused by an array of different conditions and issues. They can even occur simultaneously, with stress and urge being quite commonly experienced. It is important to address the causes because they can be as simple as muscle weakening or aging, but might also be linked to neurological issues, cancer, disease, infection and more.

Identifying the type and cause then enables you to begin receiving treatment and taking steps to feel more comfortable with the condition. Again, this is where knowledge becomes power. How? This is yet another important point to know about improving your quality of life with urinary incontinence, and it is that:

  • Your individual incontinence requirements can be mapped out. This can enable you to get it under control, and in turn, restore your quality of life to what it was before symptoms interfered. From the ongoing costs of your incontinence supplies (if needed) to the different exercises, treatment options, and steps you will take, knowing what to do, making plans and taking action is far better for your quality of life and mental well-being than simply resigning yourself to the issue.

It is important to keep in mind that treatment plans may actually alleviate or reduce symptoms. As an example of this, a man or woman with stress incontinence may find that learning how to properly exercise their pelvic floor muscles may be able to strengthen them enough to regain full control or reduce leakage. They might also use bladder training and timed fluid intake to regulate their bladder function to the most controllable level possible. This can help them learn when they will experience potential incontinence and take steps to address the situation.

Medications are also an option and surgical remedies may be able to reduce or eradicate the symptom. As we already noted, incontinence supplies will also make a world of difference, including specialty undergarments, devices for men and women, deodorants, skin care products, and many other types of pads and shields. These can be selected based on need and often worn or used discreetly enough not to interfere with everyday activities and even more athletic activities.

As one physician said, “If you’re experiencing incontinence problems, there really is no need to suffer alone. Your doctor can help you find a solution, which will get you back to living the kind of life you’ve been avoiding because of your incontinence.” However, it does take that first step – getting medical attention – and then you can get on with life!

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Did you know that urinary incontinence is one of the most under-reported medical issues? This is for several very different reasons:

  • Often, someone struggling with urinary incontinence is too embarrassed to admit they have the issue; or
  • Many assume it is a “fact of life” that will occur due to age or other factors; and
  • They might assume that there is nothing that can be done

It is unfortunate that such thinking is a common occurrence because it should not embarrass anyone to have urinary incontinence because it is a very common symptom of a surprisingly long list of conditions. Additionally, it is important to know that it is not a fact of life, nor something you have to learn to live with. After all, it is, as stated, a symptom. That means a physician may be able to work with you to identify, and in many instances, remediate the cause.

First and foremost, though, let’s answer a key question: Just what is urinary incontinence?

Urinary Incontinence Explained

The technical definition of urinary incontinence is the involuntary release of urine. We control urine through voluntary functions. As the Urology Care Foundation explains, “The brain and the bladder control urinary function”. And they do so in a very ordered manner.

  1. Your bladder stores urine until you are ready to release it, and you are able to “hold it” because of an array of muscles in the pelvic floor, including those around and in the bladder.
  2. Typically, smooth muscle in the bladder is “relaxed,” and this actually holds the urine inside of the organ. The bottom of the bladder features a sphincter that remains closed and also seals off the upper end of the urethra (the tube responsible for transporting urine out of the body). Clearly, you need the muscles of the sphincter to be responsive and healthy, too.
  3. To urinate, your brain transmits your conscious message to the muscles and bladder, opening the urethra and sphincter and emptying the bladder.

Healthy bladder function allows you to empty the bladder fully and then relax the muscles bringing your bladder from its contracted condition to its closed position. It will eventually refill and once you are ready to empty it, it will allow the process to be repeated.

Urinary incontinence, then, is when this very orderly process is somehow impeded or interrupted. There are ways that medical experts describe urinary incontinence, and they use the following terms:

  • Stress – When urinary incontinence is due to stress, usually called SUI, it signifies some sort of weakness in the muscles. For example, you cough very hard and leak urine or you lift something and realize you’ve expressed some urine. This is one of the most common manifestations of urinary incontinence
  • Overactive bladder – This is also quite common and frequently called urge incontinence because it manifests as an overwhelming (sometimes uncontrollable) need to urinate. As the UCF explains, “your brain tells your bladder to empty – even when it isn’t full. Or the bladder muscles are too active. They contract (squeeze) to pass urine before your bladder is full. This causes the urge (need) to urinate.”
  • Mixed – This is the occurrence of both SUI and OAB
  • Overflow – This is when the body makes more urine than the bladder holds OR a full bladder does not empty fully and it then leaks afterward
  • Functional – This is not technically incontinence because it is caused by the inability to reach the toilet in a reasonable span of time. For example, someone with extreme arthritis may struggle for a length of time to reach the toilet and suffer from incontinence because of the overly long delay

Naturally, this means there are many causes for urinary incontinence.

What Causes UI?

Any sort of urinary incontinence should be seen more as a symptom of another condition. There are many causes for UI in men and women of any age, and these include:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Aging
  • Hysterectomy
  • Prostate issues
  • Blockage
  • Neurological disease
  • Medical conditions
  • Risk factors that include lifestyle (smoking, drinking, drug use)
  • Obesity

Because the condition manifests in many ways, (i.e., one patient experiences urinary incontinence during the evening hours as they sleep while another experiences it whenever they strain or are active) it must also be treated very differently based on each individual case. Of course, there are also preventative measures everyone can take to reduce their risks for developing the condition.

Preventing and Treating Urinary Incontinence

It may not always be possible to avoid urinary incontinence, but the following steps will usually reduce the risks:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Consuming a high fiber diet to prevent constipation
  • Skipping alcohol and caffeine that are both dehydrating and irritating
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Exercising daily
  • Doing regular pelvic floor exercises to strengthen muscles around the bladder and urethra
  • Getting regular checkups that include incontinence screenings

If the condition still develops, a physician must be consulted right away. They can best determine the cause and then steer patients towards the best treatment options. This may include behavioral methods that include limiting fluid intake to certain amounts and certain hours, timed voiding and bladder training, and double voiding (visiting the toilet to empty the bladder, waiting a few moments and emptying it again).

Muscle training using kegel exercises is known as a good treatment for those with periodic or light incontinence due to aging, muscle weakness and more. Biofeedback is also put to use in a similar way and for similar symptoms.

When behavioral and muscle training are not enough, there are also some medications as well as surgical interventions. And because such a huge number of people struggle with urinary incontinence, there are many well-designed and effective incontinence products available. From catheter products to protective bed pads and entirely undetectable urinary incontinence undergarments, it is possible to lead a normal healthy life even with incontinence that cannot be remedied through medical intervention.

The first step is to accept that it is not an embarrassing issue and that it is treatable, even if limited to incontinence products. Life can be enjoyed in the same ways it was before incontinence, and the first step is to speak with a medical professional to discuss the issue.