Causes of Urinary Incontinence

The most common types of urinary incontinence in women are stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence. Women with both problems have mixed urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is caused by loss of support of the urethra which is usually a consequence of damage to pelvic support structures as a result of childbirth. It is characterized by leaking of small amounts of urine with activities which increase abdominal pressure such as coughing, sneezing and lifting. Additionally, frequent exercise in high-impact activities can cause athletic incontinence to develop. Urge urinary incontinence is caused by uninhibited contractions of the detrusor muscle. It is characterized by leaking of large amounts of urine in association with insufficient warning to get to the bathroom in time.

  • Polyuria (excessive urine production) of which, in turn, the most frequent causes are: uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, primary polydipsia (excessive fluid drinking), central diabetes insipidus and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. Polyuria generally causes urinary urgency and frequency, but doesn't necessarily lead to incontinence.
  • Enlarged prostate is the most common cause of incontinence in men after the age of 40; sometimes prostate cancer may also be associated with urinary incontinence. Moreover drugs or radiation used to treat prostate cancer can also cause incontinence.
  • Disorders like multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Parkinson's disease, strokes and spinal cord injury can all interfere with nerve function of the bladder.

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