Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control causing leakage of urine. This temporary or chronic condition has multiple mechanisms and many causes. Each cause has its own methods of diagnosis and its own treatment plan.
Urinary bladder function is a careful balance between pressure from the bladder to empty and resistance from the sphincter (valve) at its outlet. Pressure to empty increases suddenly when the bladder reaches a certain volume.
Sphincter resistance depends not only on the strength of the muscle but also on its position. Both forces are controlled mostly by your autonomic (automatic) nervous system, the same system that regulates body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. However, you do have control over the sphincter and can strengthen it with exercise.
Urinary incontinence is common, but treatable.
Urinary incontinence. National Association for Continence website. Available at: https://www.nafc.org/urinary-incontinence. Accessed May 19, 2017.
Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900624/Urinary-...ontinence-in-men. Updated December 13, 2016. Accessed May 17, 2017.
Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900573/Urinary-in...tinence-in-women. Updated May 15, 2017. Accessed May 19, 2017
Last reviewed May 2017 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.