Urinary incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine and is a very common problem.

It is not clear exactly how many people have urinary incontinence, as many people are too embarrassed to report their condition. In general, urinary incontinence affects three times as many women as men and becomes more common with increasing age.

Common types of urinary incontinence

Stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is urinary leakage which occurs with physical activities such as running, walking, exercising or laughing and sneezing.

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder syndrome, occurs when urine leaks soon after a sudden and very intense need to pass urine. The need to pass urine is often triggered by a sudden change of position, sound of running water or cold weather. There are often only a few seconds between the need to urinate and the release of urine. Women are unable to hold on or delay going to the toilet.

Mixed incontinence

Mixed incontinence occurs when symptoms of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence are present. For example, a woman may leak urine on coughing or sneezing, and also experience very intense urges to pass urine.

Less common types of urinary incontinence

Overflow incontinence

Overflow incontinence, also called chronic urinary retention, occurs when the bladder cannot completely empty itself. This causes the bladder to swell above its usual size.

If someone has overflow incontinence, they may pass small trickles of urine very often. It may also feel as though the bladder is never fully empty and cannot be emptied, even when trying to do so.

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