What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine. There are several different types of urinary incontinence.
- Stress incontinence – when an increase in abdominal pressure (e.g. laughing, sneezing, exercising, coughing, picking up something heavy) causes urine to leak.
- Urge incontinence – involuntary spasms in the bladder cause a need to urinate immediately and difficulty making it to the bathroom. Also known as overactive bladder.
- Overflow incontinence – a leakage of urine once the bladder is full due to difficulties with emptying the bladder completely. Symptoms are frequent dribbling of urine.
- Mixed incontinence – when you have both stress and urge incontinence.
See figure below for illustration of male pelvic floor:
What causes urinary incontinence?
- Weak pelvic floor
- Aging of the bladder muscles
- Obesity and sedentary lifestyle
- Enlarged prostate
- An obstruction in the urethra
- Neurological disorders
- Prostate cancer and associated treatments
- Overactive bladder
- Damaged urethral sphincter
- Bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs) can worsen symptoms
Treatments for urinary incontinence
- Do daily pelvic floor exercises to not only help ease symptoms but also to prevent any future related issues.
- Gentle Electrical stimulation: Electrodes are temporarily inserted into your rectum to stimulate and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Gentle electrical stimulation can be effective for stress incontinence and urge incontinence, but you may need multiple treatments over several months.
- Make behavioral changes such as scheduled bathroom breaks or fluid intake management.
- Urethral inserts: these devices go into the urethra and block urine flow. When you have to go, take it out, toss it, and insert a new one.
- Penile clamps: these provide pressure to keep the urethra closed for mild to moderate leaks.
- Male guards: small sleeves that fit over the tip of the penis to contain light moisture.
- Condom catheters: these fit around the penis and end in a tube that leads to a collection bag strapped to your body.
- Periurethral injections: injections into the tissue surrounding the urethra.
- Botox: these injections may help with overactive bladder by reducing involuntary muscle contractions.
- Male sling
- Artificial urinary sphincter
- Bladder augmentation