5 Types of Incontinence

5 Types of Incontinence

When you have urinary incontinence, it may seem of little consequence to identify which type, as they all lead to the same embarrassing result. The fact is that there are distinctly different types of urinary incontinence, and knowing which one you’re affected by can help us better direct our efforts at solving the problem.

To get you started, the team of urology experts here at Arizona Urology want to briefly review the five most common types of urinary incontinence and how we can go about treating each.

1. Stress incontinence

This type of incontinence occurs when added stress on your bladder causes you to leak urine, such as when you sneeze or cough. While you used to sneeze or cough without incident, if your urethral sphincter and/or pelvic floor weakens, you’re less able to control how well your bladder holds urine.

There are many reasons why people develop stress incontinence, but age and childbirth are the more common drivers of a weakening in the bladder support tissues. As well, pelvic organ prolapse can also lead to stress incontinence as your bladder shifts out of position. 

Women often encounter stress incontinence when they’re pregnant, which makes sense when you consider a growing fetus is pressing up against their bladders.

If your stress incontinence isn’t temporary, such as with a pregnancy, we recommend exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor, first and foremost. If these prove ineffective, we can turn to pessaries or urethral inserts to add support. For incontinence related to pelvic organ prolapse, we offer pelvic floor reconstruction surgery.

2. Urge incontinence

The hallmarks or urge incontinence are frequent and sudden urges to urinate and the inability to control them, leading to urinary leakage.

If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you likely understand urge incontinence. Beyond a temporary infection, urge incontinence may stem from neurological issues or medical conditions, such as diabetes.

If the problem is ongoing, we first recommend bladder training, which helps your brain better control the nerves around your urinary tract. There are also medications we can give you that can control this type of incontinence by relaxing the muscles involved.

3. Mixed incontinence

If you have incontinence that’s both stress- and urge-related, we call this mixed incontinence. Treatments for this type of incontinence often combine those that we’ve already outlined above.

4. Overflow incontinence

You feel no urge to urinate, yet your bladder is overly full and releases urine. Overflow incontinence can affect men with benign prostate hyperplasia, as well as people with neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes.

If the overflow incontinence stems from a blockage, we may need to correct the blockage surgically. We can also turn to sacral neuromodulation with the InterStim™ device, which improves the communication between your brain and the nerves that control urination.

5. Functional incontinence

With this type of incontinence, the problem doesn’t lie in your body, but in your inability to make it to the bathroom in time to urinate. As examples, arthritis, post-surgery recovery, and dementia can lead to functional incontinence.

With this type of incontinence, treatment depends upon resolving the underlying problem or finding ways to work around the hurdles.

No matter which type of incontinence is affecting you, we want you to know there’s help. To get started, contact one of our offices in Goodyear, Glendale, Gilbert, or Phoenix, Arizona, to sit down with our urology experts.

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