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Urinary Incontinence Causes & Risks


Temporary incontinence can be caused by:

More permanent urinary incontinence may be one of four types. Some people have a mixture of these types. In some cases, incontinence may have several different causes. The cause may also be unclear.

Stress Incontinence

This results when certain activities lead to increased pressure on the bladder. Triggers may be laughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects , or exercise. This is the most common type of incontinence. It may be caused by:

  • Weakening of the muscles that suspend the bladder
  • Weakening of muscles that control urine flow
  • Obesity

Muscles Involved in Incontinence in Women

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Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is a loss of bladder control following a strong urge to urinate. The person is not able to hold urine long enough to make it to a restroom. This is also known as overactive bladder. It may be caused or worsened by:

Overflow Incontinence

This occurs when the bladder will not empty. Urine builds up, and this causes an overflow and leaking of urine. It may be caused by:

  • A bladder that is blocked, such as by a scar in the urethra (stricture)
  • Fecal impaction
  • Drugs (eg, antidepressants, hypnotics, antipsychotics, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers)
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Nerve damage due to:
    • Surgery
    • Diabetes
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Other factors

Functional Incontinence

This occurs when there is normal bladder control, but an inability to reach the toilet in time. An example would be severe arthritis . Drugs that cause confusion or sedation can also cause functional incontinence.

Risk Factors

These risk factors increase your chance of developing urinary incontinence. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2018 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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