Urinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control that results in the leakage of urine. Incontinence occurs because of problems with muscles and nerves that control the retention and release of urine. Normally, the bladder stores the urine that is continually produced by the kidneys until it is convenient to urinate, but when any part of the urinary system malfunctions, incontinence can result.
Women experiencing incontinence may suffer emotional as well as physical discomfort. Many women affected by loss of bladder control isolate themselves due to embarrassment, fear of ridicule and loss of self-esteem. The risk of public embarrassment keeps them from enjoying many activities with their family and friends. There are four basic types of incontinence: Stress incontinence
When pelvic muscles have been damaged, urine bladder may leak during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or any body movement that puts pressure on the bladder. Physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are often associated with stress incontinence. Urge incontinence
When nerve impulses between the bladder and the brain are not well coordinated, the urgent need to pass urine cannot be consciously inhibited which results in a bladder contraction and urinary leakage. Mixed incontinence
Stress and urge incontinence may often exist together in which case the problem is termed "mixed incontinence." Overflow incontinence
In some circumstances, the appropriate signals to and from the brain to coordinate urination are absent. Urine will accumulate in the bladder, and without contraction to empty the bladder, eventually small amounts will escape almost continuously. In addition, any process that blocks the urethra and thereby prevents emptying when the bladder contracts may also cause overflow incontinence.Female Urinary Incontinence Resources Diagnostic Tools Treatment
This information was compiled with help from the following Web sites. Please see them for more information on Female Urinary Incontinence. National Association of Incontinence National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information and Clearinghouse