The 4 types of urinary incontinence

Women are more prone to urinary incontinence, because the female urethra is short and the continence mechanism is not as well developed as in the male. Multiple childbirths stretch and weaken the support of the bladder and urethra, and menopause sometimes weakens the vagina and urethra, which impairs the “closing” function of the urethra.

Other factors that may contribute to urinary incontinence include:

- Prostatic hyperplasia
- Trauma, surgery or radiation to the pelvis
- Tuberculosis of the urinary tract
- Stroke
- Dementia
- Spinal cord injury

Types of urinary incontinence
There are four different types of urinary incontinence:

1. Stress incontinence, which occurs when urine leaks from the bladder when you cough, laugh, sneeze or do any other activity that places stress on the abdomen.

2. Urge incontinence – the leakage of urine associated with a great urgency or desire to urinate, which cannot be suppressed. For example, it kicks in when (even if you’ve been fine up until that moment) you get close to a toilet and suddenly find you can’t make it all the way.

3. Overflow incontinence happens when someone has difficulty passing urine, which causes the bladder to be permanently full. As the kidneys continue to produce urine, the excess spills out through the urethra – almost like a dam that’s overflowing.

4. Total incontinence is the continuous leakage of all the urine. It’s most often caused by an abnormal communication between the bladder and the vagina (called vesicovaginal fistula).

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