Urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and frequent urination are quite common. In fact, 20 million women in the U.S. have some form of urinary incontinence. Men also can suffer from incontinence, although it is not as common as with women.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are two main types of incontinence:

  • Stress Incontinence: Loss or leakage of urine when pressure is exerted such as laughing, sneezing, coughing, lifting or exercising.
  • Urge Incontinence: The sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by the involuntary loss of urine often without warning. This can also occur with the need to urinate frequently during the day and several times at night.

Incontinence Causes

  • Stress Incontinence is caused by the weakening of the sphincter muscle of the urethra. In women this is usually from pregnancy and childbirth, aging, obesity and genetic predisposition. In men, this is typically associated with surgery removing the prostate for prostate cancer.
  • Urge Incontinence in women can be caused from bladder infections, ingestion of bladder irritants, bowel problems, such as constipation and neurological disorders known as overactive bladder.

In men, incontinence causes are most commonly caused by an enlarging prostate, which can irritate the bladder and cause, flow constriction.

Incontinence Risk Factors

  • Alcohol consumption acts as a bladder irritant
  • Caffeine acts as a diuretic and bladder irritant
  • Bladder infections may irritate the bladder lining
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Hysterectomy
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer and surgery to remove the prostate
  • Nervous system disorders such as MS, Parkinson’s, stroke and spinal cord injuries

Incontinence Complications

  • Skin problems such as rashes or skin breakdown from being wet
  • Quality of life issues such as foregoing exercising or social events because of embarrassment, lost time at work or productivity and depression