Urinary Incontinence is the accidental or involuntary leakage of urine. Bothersome incontinence is common and affects up to 1 in 4 women. However up to one half will never seek help. Incontinence can have a profoundly detrimental impact on quality of life, personal relationships and in turn, has significant burden on society.
Urinary Incontinence can occur at any age and although incontinence is a common problem, it is not a normal part of ageing. Depending on the type of incontinence, there is a wide variety of treatment available.
Continence is a complex mechanism and incontinence can result from failure at one of many points in the mechanism. For example; if brain does not properly signal to the bladder, or the urethral sphincter (a strong circular muscle at the bladder outlet) does not squeeze strongly enough, or both, leakage may occur. The bladder muscle may contract too much or not enough because of a problem with the muscle itself or the nerves controlling the bladder muscle. Likewise, damage to the sphincter muscles themselves or the nerves controlling these muscles can result in poor sphincter function. These problems a varied can range from simple to complex, however the end result is the involuntary loss of urine.
Urinary incontinence is broadly defined by these categories:
· Stress Urinary Incontinence – leakage of urinary with laugh, cough and sneeze.
· Urge Urinary Incontinence – leakage of urinary associated with a sudden strong need to urinate that cannot be deferred
· Mixed Urinary incontinence – a combination of stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence
· Overflow Urinary incontinence – leakage of urine from an over full bladder, often with little or no feeling.
· Post void dribbling – Dribbling leakage of urine that has been retained in the urethra after the bladder has emptied.
The cause of urinary incontinence depends of the specific type of incontinence and the symptoms. We commonly further define urinary incontinence as either neurogenic or non-neurogenic. Neurogenic incontinence refers to that in which an underlying neurological disease can be attributed to causing disruption to the continence nerves. This may be due to injury such as a spinal cord injury or a disease process such as Multiple sclerosis.