Incontinence Home > Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are four main types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, and functional incontinence. Combinations of these different types are sometimes referred to as "mixed incontinence." Different triggers or causes will determine which kind of urinary incontinence a person has.

An Overview of Urinary Incontinence Types

Urinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control. It can happen to anyone, but is common in older people. The four main types of urinary incontinence include:
 
  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence (overactive bladder)
  • Overflow incontinence
  • Functional incontinence.
     
Stress Incontinence
If coughing, laughing, sneezing, or other movements that put pressure on the bladder cause you to leak urine, you may have stress incontinence. Physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause often cause this condition. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence in women. Fortunately, it is treatable.
 
Pelvic floor muscles support your bladder. If these muscles weaken, your bladder can move downward, pushing slightly out of the bottom of the pelvis toward the vagina. This prevents muscles that ordinarily force the urethra shut from squeezing as tightly as they should.
 
As a result, urine can leak into the urethra during moments of physical stress. Stress incontinence can also occur if the muscles that do the squeezing weaken.
 
Stress incontinence can worsen during the week before your menstrual period. At that time, lowered estrogen levels might lead to lower muscular pressure around the urethra, increasing chances of leakage. The incidence of stress incontinence increases following menopause.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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