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Types of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine. You may leak urine. Or you may not be able to hold urine until you can get to a bathroom. Read on to learn more about the types of incontinence.

Cutaway view of bladder


Cutaway view of bladder


Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

If you have SUI, urine leaks out of the bladder during activity. Symptoms of SUI include leaking when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. This may occur because muscles under the bladder are weak. It also sometimes happens in men for a time after prostate surgery.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is also called an “overactive bladder.” With this type, the bladder feels full even when it’s almost empty. The main symptom is a sudden urge to urinate that can’t be controlled. The urge is felt often. This type can be caused by infection or by a nerve problem. It can also be caused by a growth in the bladder.

Overflow Incontinence

With overflow incontinence, the bladder doesn’t empty when it should. It then gets very full. Urine may leak out in small amounts. Or the urge to urinate is felt often, but urine trickles instead of flowing freely. The bladder may never feel empty. Blockage of the opening to the bladder or the urethra may cause this type. Or it may be caused by nerve or muscle problems that stop the bladder from contracting.

Mixed Incontinence

If you have mixed incontinence, you have more than one type of incontinence at the same time.

Online Medical Reviewer: Newman, Diane, RNC, MSN, CRNP, FAAN,
Date Last Reviewed: 5/31/2012
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