Incontinence Home > Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) can happen to anyone, but is more common in older people. There are several different types of incontinence, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence (overactive bladder), and overflow incontinence. Fortunately, there are more treatment options now than ever before.

What Is Urinary Incontinence?

Loss of bladder control is called urinary incontinence. It can happen to anyone, but is very common in older people. More than 13 million people in the United State -- male and female, young and old -- experience urinary incontinence. It is often temporary, and always results from an underlying medical condition.
 
Symptoms can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. Women are more likely than men to have urinary incontinence.
 
If you experience urinary incontinence, you may feel embarrassed. It may help you to remember that loss of bladder control can be treated. You will need to overcome your embarrassment and see a doctor to learn if you need treatment for an underlying medical condition.
 

Understanding Bladder Control

The body stores urine in the bladder. During urination, muscles in the bladder contract or tighten. This forces urine out of the bladder and into a tube called the urethra that carries urine out of the body. At the same time, muscles surrounding the urethra relax and let the urine pass through. Spinal nerves control how these muscles move. Urinary incontinence occurs if the bladder muscles contract, or the muscles surrounding the urethra relax without warning.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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