This article is aimed at individuals who are experiencing incontinence and are not sure what to do about it; within this article, you will find detailed information about the causes and types of incontinence.
Incontinence, also commonly known as bladder weakness, is a condition that requires patience and discretion because many people are embarrassed about their condition.
The first thing you need to know if you are experiencing any degree of incontinence is that you are NOT alone! More than 6 million people in the US experience incontinence symptoms, and this number is most likely higher due to the fact that many people are embarrassed to talk to anyone about it, even their doctor or a family member.
Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about incontinence. There are many types of treatments for all levels of incontinence, and we are here to help!
Incontinence is more common in women, but that doesn’t rule men out of the equation. Incontinence is a gender-neutral condition that can be caused by numerous factors, such as:
Weakened pelvic floor muscles – The bladder and urethra are supported and held in place by a sling of muscles called pelvic floor muscles, which keep the bladder closed. If these muscles lose their strength and/or flexibility (often caused by trauma to the entrance of the bladder, pelvic floor, or bowel during childbirth), then even everyday activities such as coughing may cause leaking.
Being overweight can also put an added strain on pelvic floor muscles.
Birth defect – You may have been born with a defective bladder or sphincter, which means you’ve always leaked or started to leak once other factors add to the problem.
Menopause - The mucosa becomes thinner, and thus the urethra becomes more open, which can cause leakage and increased risk of cystitis. The nerves in the bladder itself will be less protected due to the thin mucosa and will therefore be more irritated. This can lead to frequent urination and involuntary urination.
Illness – Kidney or urinary tract infections can cause bladder irritation or incontinence. Severe constipation can also cause these conditions to occur.
Nerve damage – Incontinence can be caused by nerve damage, such as spinal cord injury, or nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis.
Other – surgery, medication, or an oversensitive bladder can also lead to bladder weakness.
As mentioned above, there are various degrees of incontinence or bladder weaknesses. See below for a quick run-down:
Stress incontinence – This is by far the most common type and is common in women after childbirth or after menopause.
Urge incontinence – The second most common type of incontinence, it is also referred to as an overactive bladder.
Drip or overflow – This is most common in older men who often have a slightly enlarged prostate gland, which is situated just underneath the bladder. Women suffer from the same symptoms due to excessive bladder muscle after years of development of a large bladder. Both sexes may also develop the same symptoms due to diabetes or a high alcohol intake. Similarly, both sexes can experience the same symptoms due to neurological disorders and medication.
Reflex incontinence – This is when individuals have no control over their bladder, and it usually happens after an accident or illness.
So there you have it – these are the causes and most common types of incontinence. However, it is extremely important to note that only a doctor can diagnose and treat your condition, and this is by far the most important advice regarding incontinence and any other kind of medical condition.