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Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a condition that causes an individual to leak urine. Incontinence can range from leaking just a few drops to complete emptying of the bladder.


There are three main types of urinary incontinence:


  • Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is leaking urine when coughing, laughing or sneezing. Leaks also can happen when a woman walks, runs or exercises.
  • Urgency urinary incontinence is a sudden strong urge to urinate that is hard to stop. Women with this type of urinary incontinence may leak urine on the way to the bathroom. If you have an “overactive bladder,” it means that you have symptoms of urgency and frequency that may or may not include incontinence.
  • Urgency urinary incontinence combines symptoms of both SUI and urgency urinary incontinence.


Signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence include urgency, frequency, waking from sleep to urinate, painful urination, and leaking urine while sleeping.


The first two steps in assessing urinary incontinence usually are a medical history and physical exam. Sometimes, imaging tests and bladder function tests are done if more information is needed.


Nonsurgical treatment options include lifestyle changes, bladder training, physical therapy and using bladder support devices. For urgency urinary incontinence, the treatment may involve medication. Surgery may help certain types of incontinence. Often, several treatments are used together for the best effect.