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What are the different types of incontinence?


What happens when you have little to no control over your bladder? It can become embarrassing or even troublesome to go out in public and constantly have your bladder leak without warning or from something as simple as a sneeze. Incontinence is the loss of bladder control, it's leaking of urine that you have a hard time controlling or completely lose the ability to control urination. You may be wondering if this is just an issue for women, it’s not. Urinary incontinence affects both men and women. Statistically speaking, a quarter to a third of men and women suffer from incontinence. Many of these men and women are afraid or embarrassed to discuss incontinence with others.


Aging is the most common link to urinary incontinence, but not the main reason for those that suffer from it. Women who have had kids are at an increased risk of incontinence and men who struggle with prostate problems are also at an increased risk for incontinence. But how does urinary incontinence happen in the body? Well, for a normal bladder, the brain and bladder work together to control urinary functions. The muscles in the lower part of the pelvis hold the bladder in place. So, contrary to a normal bladder, those that deal with incontinence have a normally smooth muscle that causes the bladder to be relaxed and take signals from the brain when it is time to release.


Did you know that there are different types of incontinence that men and women experience? Let’s start with stress incontinence! Stress incontinence is when weak pelvic muscles let urine escape. This is the most common type of urinary incontinence and is also most common in older women. Stress incontinence happens when the pelvic floor muscles have stretched, physical activity puts pressure on the bladder and then the bladder leaks without control. It can happen when exercising, walking, bending, lifting or even sneezing/coughing.


Overactive bladder is another common urinary incontinence. It’s also known as urgency incontinence. With an overactive bladder, the brain tells your bladder that it needs to empty even when it isn’t full or when your bladder muscles are too active. Your muscles contract to pass urine before your bladder is full which causes you to feel the “urge” to urinate. Overactive bladder affects more than 30% of men and 40% of women in the United States. It can increase the need to urinate many times during the day and night.


Overflow incontinence is when the body makes more urine than the bladder can actually hold or the bladder is full and can’t empty, which causes it to leak urine. Furthermore, there could also be something blocking the flow or the bladder muscle may not contract as it should. There’s frequent urination of a small amount. Overflow incontinence is rare in women and more common in men who have prostate problems. Lastly, functional incontinence, which is simply when a person is aware of the need to urinate, but is physically unable to make it to the bathroom.


Incontinence is important to know about, though it may be difficult for some to talk about. Besides, you may know someone who has been affected by it!


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