Different Types of Female Urinary Incontinence

On average, urinary tract problems in women tend to occur twice as much as in men. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are to blame for this as is the way in which the female urinary tract is designed. Women can suffer from a variety of bladder problems. Here is a look at some of the more common urinary incontinence problems that affect women.

Stress Urinary Incontinence in Females

Stress incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence that can also be effectively treated. In this case, urine will leak out of the bladder when a woman sneezes, laughs, coughs or exerts any amount of pressure on her abdominal area.

In stress incontinence, weak pelvic muscles can let urine escape when a cough or other action puts pressure on the bladder

In stress incontinence, weak pelvic muscles can let urine escape when a cough or other action puts pressure on the bladder – Image NIDDK NIH

Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are well known to bring on stress incontinence.

If the pelvic floor muscles become weakened, which is common side effect of pregnancy and childbirth, this causes the bladder to be pushed in a downward direction in the body, closer towards the vagina. This puts more of a strain on the muscles that close the urethra off and consequently, urine seeps out.

Women who suffer from stress incontinence are likely to suffer from it even worse the week before their menstrual period begins.

Urinary Incontinence in Women Video – Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Urge Urinary Incontinence

This is another of the urinary tract problems in women and is characterized with the feeling to use the bathroom but finding that the urine has escaped before making it to the toilet.

Urge incontinence most often occurs due to bladder contractions that are inappropriate.

Physicians have different ways of describing urge incontinence. Some like to call the bladder “overactive” while others describe it as being “unstable” or “spastic.”

Sometimes overactive nerves bring on urge incontinence and when this happens it is called “reflex incontinence.”

When a woman suffers from urge incontinence this can mean her bladder will seep urine after drinking a small glass of water, when she is asleep or even if she touches water or hears it running, such as when she is doing laundry or washing dishes.

Sometimes urge incontinence can also take place due to damage that has been done to the nerves of the bladder or damage done directly to the nervous system or to the muscles.

Functional Urinary Incontinence

This is more of a physical problem or abnormality that makes it difficult for a person to reach the washroom in time to urinate. These women may find that their ability to think, communicate and move their bodies is thwarted by the physical problem.

For example, folks confined to wheelchairs often develop problems with maneuvering themselves out of the chair to use the washroom.

Another example are those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. These folks may have problems thinking clearly enough to make it to the toilet in time to urinate.

Overflow Urinary Incontinence

Although not so common in women, overflow incontinence is when there is too large a supply of urine for the bladder to hold. While this type of incontinence does happen, it is rare for it to happen to females and is more commonly a man’s problem.

The most common cause of overflow incontinence is a blocked urethra or else bladder muscles that are weak.

Other causes of this type of incontinence include tumors and kidney stones that block the passage or urine from the urethra, nerve damage due to diabetes and a variety of other diseases that can cause the bladder muscles to weaken over time.

Sometimes a woman can experience both stress incontinence and urge incontinence at the same time. When any two types of urinary tract problems occur together, doctors refer to this as “mixed incontinence.”

There is also a temporary type of incontinence known as transient incontinence. This can come about for a variety of reasons such as bladder infections, impairment on a mental level, medications, severe constipation or a restricted ability to move about.