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Causes of incontinence

Causes of incontinence

Urinary incontinence causes

Urinary incontinence is a common condition experienced by millions of adults around the world on a daily basis. It is generally defined as involuntary loss of urine and can present itself in many guises. The loss of urine can be as little as a few drops, or in some cases it canalso be quite substantial.

Causes of incontinence 

  • Kidney infection ­– a kidney infection, if not treated properly, can permanently damage your kidneys, or the bacteria can spread to the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection.
  • Vaginal prolapse – vaginal prolapse is a common female condition where one or more of the pelvic organs loses its support and drops into the vagina.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome – IBS is a functional disorder and a long-term condition that causes recurring pain or discomfort in the abdomen and alters bowel habits.
  • Small bladder – when some people say they have a small bladder, what they’re really suggesting is they have an ‘overactive bladder’.
  • Urinary retention – urinary retention can affect anyone, however men in their fifties and sixties are more susceptible, primarily because of an enlarged prostate.
  • Urinary tract infection – a urinary tract infection can present itself anywhere within urinary system, which comprises of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
  • Bladder cancer – bladder cancer affects men and women and develops when cells within the bladder grow abnormally causing them to multiply and divide uncontrollably.
  • Bladder infection – also known as cystitis, it appears when E. coli bacteria enter and travel up the urethra, infect the urine and inflame the internal bladder lining.
  • Bladder pain – also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), it is a common condition attributed to things like urinary tract infection, bladder stones, Crohn’s Disease or even bladder cancer.

Some people may notice they lose a few drops of urine when they’re laughing, coughing, sneezing or exerting pressure on the bladder such as when lifting heavy objects. Some even get it while running or exercising. This is called stress incontinence. 

Others experience what’s called urge incontinence where they feel an overwhelming urge to urinate before they can get to a toilet. The bladder fools you into thinking it’s full when mostly it’s not.

Many even experience both these symptoms at the same time. This is what’s called mixed incontinence.

Overflow incontinence involves the bladder ‘overflowing’ from not being able to empty because of an obstruction either in the bladder itself or because there is something pressing against the bladder sphincter (usually the prostate in men).

There are other forms of incontinence including functional incontinence, transient (or temporary) incontinence and total incontinence.

What causes urinary incontinence?

There are many reasons for incontinence.

Women experience urinary incontinence twice as often as men. This can be due to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, all of which have a debilitating effect on a woman’s pelvic floor muscles and supportive tissue. Unfortunately, after a while everything tends to loosen up and the result is involuntary bladder leakage.

In men, the prostate tends to play havoc with the bladder and is the usual culprit. However, both women and men can becomeincontinent from taking certain medications, through neurologic injury, birth defects, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis and physical problems that are a part of growing old. 

But there are many other urinary incontinence causes that should also be taken into consideration. Most have to do with organs of the urinary tract and can range from infections in the bladder, kidneys or the urinary tract itself, to more serious problems like prolapse, enlarged prostate and even bladder cancer.

This section explains some of the causes of incontinence and some of the treatment options available.

Kimberly-Clark makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.