About Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence. It’s awkward enough just to say it; it’s even more embarrassing
to realize you may have it. When you have urinary incontinence, you may find yourself
having to hold back a laugh or stifle a sneeze because of leakage. You may feel
like you need to stay close to a restroom. The fear of having an accident can prevent
you from living a normal life.
Los Angeles urologist Dr. Michael Safir specializes in the diagnosis and treatment
of urinary incontinence. Although Dr. Safir has extensive experience in diagnosing
and treating urinary incontinence in women (he literally wrote the book on it),
urinary incontinence in men is also quite common, and is routinely treated in our
West Hills and Beverly Hills urology offices.
Types of Urinary Incontinence, Causes and Symptoms
Stress Incontinence - this is the most common form of urinary incontinence in women.
- Symptoms: In stress incontinence, involuntary urination occurs after stress to the abdominal area resulting from coughing, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting, or strenuous exercise. The increased pressure on the bladder and the urethra can prevent pelvic floor muscles from closing properly, allowing urine to escape.
- Causes: Low estrogen levels, which occur most often in menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth, can contribute to causing stress incontinence. Pelvic surgery, nerve damage, and pelvic prolapse may also be factors.
Urge Incontinence - associated with overactive bladder
- Symptoms: This type of urinary incontinence is characterized by sudden, uncontrollable urges to urinate. It may be triggered by environmental cues such as hearing running water or drinking liquid.
- Causes: Urge incontinence can stem from brain or spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis. In some cases the causes are ambiguous.
- Symptoms: In overflow incontinence, the bladder continually exceeds its capacity, and is literally overflowing, resulting in leakage of urine. The defining symptoms of this type of urinary incontinence are frequent dribbling of urine and feeling like you can’t completely empty your bladder.
- Causes: In men, enlarged prostate (BPH) is a major cause; so is urethral stricture. In women, pelvic prolapse, such as uterine prolapse or vaginal prolapse, may cause overflow incontinence.
- Symptoms: In functional incontinence, you are aware of the need to urinate, but can’t physically get to the bathroom in time.
- Causes: Physical conditions, such as limited mobility, or mental conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, are common causes.