There are two main types of urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence can happen to anyone at any age but is more likely to develop as you get older. However, urinary incontinence is more common in women, with stress incontinence affecting three in ten women over 40.
In many cases, urinary incontinence can be improved with lifestyle changes, special exercises and bladder training. A range of medical and surgical treatments are also available.
Stress incontinence is often the result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles or urethral muscles. This can be caused by:
Urinary incontinence is often caused by an overactive bladder, which can also trigger frequent urination, especially at night. An overactive bladder can be the result of:
However, sometimes the cause can't be determined.
Urinary incontinence can also be the result of:
Your GP will ask you about your urinary incontinence and how it’s affecting you. If possible, for a week, write down episodes of urinary incontinence, your fluid intake and how often you urinate.
Your GP will discuss any medication you’re taking and may test your urine and examine your abdomen, vagina and/or back passage (rectum). To help with diagnosis, they may refer you for:
Depending on your diagnosis, your GP may refer you to a consultant or to a continence clinic.
To treat urinary incontinence, your GP or consultant may suggest:
If there’s no improvement in your stress incontinence, your doctor may recommend surgery. This may be surgery to support the bladder, strengthen the muscles controlling urination or increase the size of your bladder.
If you continue to be affected by urge incontinence or frequent urination, your doctor may recommend bladder training. Other treatments for urge incontinence include: