Free to Live Dry
Did you know that 1 in 3 women experience bladder leakage (urinary incontinence)?1
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
Bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence, is the loss of bladder control or involuntary loss of urine.
It’s a far more common condition than you may realize. In fact, it’s very likely that you or someone you know — your mother, sister, or best friend — is quietly coping with this potentially embarrassing problem. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that treatment options are available.
There are several types of incontinence. You may experience symptoms of more than one type3
- Stress incontinence — Leaking urine during a physical activity like laughing, lifting, exercising, sneezing, and coughing
- Urge incontinence — Experiencing a sudden, intense need to urinate — even if you just went — but being unable to hold it long enough to reach a bathroom
- Mixed incontinence — A combination of stress and urge incontinence
- Overflow incontinence — Leaking urine because your bladder never completely empties
- Functional incontinence — A physical or mental impairment that stops you from getting to the toilet on time
Anatomy 101: Changes in Your Body Can Lead to Urinary Incontinence
Your body before urinary incontinence
The bladder and urethra must be well supported by the pelvic muscles and tissue in order to prevent involuntary urine loss.
Your body with stress urinary incontinence
If the muscles that hold your bladder in place (pelvic floor muscles) or the muscles that keep your urethra closed (sphincter muscles) are not working properly, the muscles may be unable to handle anything that puts pressure on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing.4
- When sudden pressure is placed on your bladder, urine may escape past those weakened muscles, resulting in urinary incontinence
Your body with urge urinary incontinence
While the end result may be the same, urge urinary incontinence results from a very different set of circumstances. When nerve passages from the bladder to the brain are impaired by an infection or a neurological injury, disease, or disorder, the brain may receive bad information — and indicate that the bladder should be emptied, even if it’s not full. The brain then directs the muscles surrounding the bladder to contract, sometimes so suddenly that there isn’t enough time to get to a restroom.
- American Urological Association Foundation, Inc. Frequently Asked Questions About Stress Urinary Incontinence. www.urologyhealth.org/SUI/_documents/_pdf/AUAF_SUI_FAQs.pdf. Accessed January 7, 2012.
- Margalith I, Gillon G, Gordon D. Urinary incontinence in women under 65: quality of life, stress related to incontinence and patterns of seeking health care. Qual Life Res. 2004;13(8):1381-1390.
- National Kidney & Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). What I need to know about Bladder Control for Women. www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/. Accessed January 7, 2012.
- Mayo Clinic. Urinary incontinence. Treatment and drugs. www.mayoclinic.com/health/urinary-incontinence/DS00404/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs. Accessed January 7, 2012.
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In one study, 40% of women reported that urinary incontinence affected their work or other activities2
You may not realize that you don’t have to manage your condition with frequent visits to the restroom and uncomfortable pads and liners.
SYMPTOM OF A LARGER PROBLEM?
If you suffer from incontinence, it may be due to a condition called pelvic organ prolapse (POP). To learn more about this condition, click here.
SPREAD THE WORD
We encourage you to learn more about urinary incontinence and to share what you’ve learned with the women in your life. To send this information to someone you care about, click here.