What is Urinary Incontinence?

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Urinary incontinence is any involuntary urine leakage. It is a condition that can be more or less severe and it affects one in three women of all ages, which is more than 56 million people in Europe and more than 350 million people in the world. It is not a normal part of ageing and has a negative impact on the quality of life of the women who suffer from it. 

Urinary Incontinence explained in first person

Professionals and patients explain how you live with the disease
Urinary incontinence cannot be solved by using a sanitary towel. Consult the specialist because the majority of patients can be treated and can be cured or, in any case, their quality of life can be improved significantly.
The most important thing to do is to tell your doctor to receive treatment. So far it has been working for me and I am very happy.

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Losses of urine do not form part of the normal ageing process; anyone experiencing them should ask a professional for advice. In the majority of cases urinary incontinence can be resolved and does not necessarily have to affect the individual’s daily or social life.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are different types of Urinary Incontinence associated with different causes and so the correct diagnosis is vital for indicating an appropriate treatment.

Can have symptoms that belong to just one type or multiple types simultaneously. The most frequent types of Urinary Incontinence in women are:

Woman coughing and, in a circle, bladder leaking urine

Stress urinary incontinence. Occur during activities such as laughing, sneezing, exercising, lifting heavy objects or simply upon standing up.

The frequency and severity of the losses vary greatly between women. Some women experience only occasional leaks, while for others they are more frequent. The amount of urine lost also varies widely from individual to individual, from a few drops to a stream.

This type of incontinence arises when straining increases the pressure in the abdomen and bladder. As a result urine leaks involuntarily from the urethra (the channel through which urine is discharged), especially the muscle supporting the urethra is weakened.

Woman running to the bathroom

Urge Incontinence
Some people feel a sudden and overwhelming urge to urinate without being able to control it (urinary urgency). This symptom is usually accompanied by an increase in both daytime and nighttime (nocturia) urinary frequency. Individuals with urinary urgency are often unable to hold urine long enough to reach the bathroom.

A woman coughing and another woman running to the toilet because of urinary incontinence

Mixed Incontinence
Mixed incontinence is the combination of symptoms from two other types of incontinence, stress and urge.

Overactive bladder. The main symptom of overactive bladder is feeling the urgent need to urinate; this is aggravated by an urge to go to the bathroom (increased urinary frequency). It appears to have the same causes as Urge Incontinence.

How common is Urinary Incontinence?

It is estimated that 30–40% of women experience involuntary losses of urine, even if only occasionally. However, some women have a greater likelihood of suffering urinary incontinence than others.

Substantiated information by:

Amelia Pérez González
Montserrat Espuña Pons
Sònia Anglès Acedo

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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