Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control that can lead to urine leakage. Incontinence can be temporary or long-lasting.

The causes may vary with the type of incontinence.

Stress Incontinence

The accidental loss of urine during physical activity or coughing, sneezing, and laughing

The leakage may be caused by:

  • Weakening of the muscles that suspend the bladder
  • Weakening of the muscles that control urine flow
  • Damage to the muscles that control urine flow following prostate surgery
  • Obesity
Urge Incontinence

This is also known as overactive bladder and is the accidental loss of urine when the bladder spasms for no reason. It may be caused by:

Overflow Incontinence

This occurs when the bladder will not empty. The urine builds up and overflows. This leads to leaking of urine. It may be caused by:

  • Prostate enlargement
  • Bladder that is blocked, such as by a scar in the urethra (stricture)
  • Fecal impaction putting pressure on the urethra
  • Drugs, such as antidepressants, hypnotics, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, antihistamines, and calcium channel blockers
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Nerve damage
Functional Incontinence

This is when you have normal bladder control, but you are physically unable to reach the toilet in time. It may be a result of a condition like severe arthritis. Drugs that cause confusion or sedation can also lead to functional incontinence.

There may be several different causes for incontinence. In some cases, the cause may also be unclear.