What is Urinary Incontinence

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Urinary Incontinence Definition

Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control causing leakage of urine. This temporary or chronic condition has multiple mechanisms and many causes. It can occur when you are straining (lifting, sneezing, coughing), when your bladder is full, or when you have a bladder infection. Each cause has its own methods of diagnosis and its own treatment plan.

The Bladder

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Urinary bladder function is a careful balance between pressure from the bladder to empty and resistance from the sphincter (valve) at its outlet. Pressure to empty increases suddenly when the bladder reaches a certain volume.

Sphincter resistance depends not only on the strength of the muscle but also on its position. Both forces are controlled mostly by your autonomic (automatic) nervous system, the same system that regulates body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and everything else your body does without you thinking about it. You do, however, have control over the sphincter and can strengthen it with exercise.

The Female Urinary System

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In the United States, 20 million women have some form of urinary incontinence. It occurs daily or weekly in one quarter of women over age 60 and half of women confined to institutions. Because of anatomical differences in men and women, there is a substantial difference between the sexes in the incidence of the various types of incontinence. Because of the prostate gland, men have more problems with obstructive incontinence than with stress incontinence. Prostate surgery can occasionally cause incontinence.


Learn what Urinary Incontinence is
What It Is
Learn the basics of this condition. Find out what you're dealing with.
Urinary Incontinence Causes
What causes Urinary Incontinence? Learn what the medical community has uncovered.
Urinary Incontinence Risk Factors
Risk Factors
Are you at risk of getting Urinary Incontinence? Inside you'll find known risk factors for the condition.
Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis
How will your doctor diagnose you with this condition? Learn about the tests, process, and more.
Urinary Incontinence Symptoms
What are the Urinary Incontinence symptoms? Are you showing any? Learn more today.
Urinary Incontinence Complications
Can this condition lead to other health problems? Learn more about the known complications.

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Screening for Urinary Incontinence
Learn more about the specific tests or exams given by your doctor to screen for Urinary Incontinence.
Urinary Incontinence Medications
What medications offer relief or help with this condition? Are there side effects? Risks? Learn more.
Urinary Incontinence Prevention
How can you prevent Urinary Incontinence? Read what the medical community suggests for prevention methods.
Urinary Incontinence Treatment
Can this condition be treated? What Urinary Incontinence treatment options are available?
Urinary Incontinence Care
Learn more about the day to day care of this condition. Changes to your activity, diet, exercise, and more.
Urinary Incontinence Doctors
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Featured Articles

Yoga to Help Control Incontinence
By Third Age

If you’re prone to bladder accidents, practicing a form of yoga may be the answer to regaining control. That’s the conclusion of a study published on April 25th 2014 in Female Pelvic Read more →
Tame Incontinence Without Surgery
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An overactive bladder, also known as urge incontinence, causes a sudden urge to urinate even when your bladder isn't full. For some people, the condition is simply a nuisance. For others, the urge Read more →
Watch: Avoiding Overactive Bladder During Menopause
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Here's another addition to our ThirdAge Video Collection. Press play to start learning! Read more →

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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright ©2014 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved. Source: EBSCO