Dr. Michael Safir Southern California Center For Advanced Urology

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Urinary Incontinence - Cause

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.

Overflow Incontinence

  • 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.

Functional 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.

The Difference That Dr. Safir Brings...

Dr. Michael Safir is not only a board-certified urologist; he is also a nationally-renowned urologic surgeon. He specializes in the rapidly developing field of reconstructive urology. Dr. Safir is one of only a handful of urologists worldwide to have completed separate fellowship training in reconstructive female urology surgery (at UCLA) and male genitourinary surgery (at UCSF). The American Board of Medical Specialties has just recently recognized female pelvic reconstructive surgery as a distinct subspecialty.

Dr. Safir lectures at medical conventions and seminars, and travels throughout the country training other urologists and gynecologists in the latest, advanced techniques for surgical treatment of urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse.

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Frequently Asked Questions
about Urinary Incontinence

Video Blog

Michael Safir, M.D. speaks candidly about various urological conditions and the advanced surgical procedures used in his practice.

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