Urinary Incontinence | UI

Urinary incontinence can happen to anyone at any age. The doctors and urologists at MaineHealth can help find the cause of the incontinence and the best treatment.

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a loss of bladder control resulting in accidental leaking of urine. It is more common in women and older adults, but it can happen to anyone. Urinary incontinence can happen for many reasons.

Bladder control problems can be embarrassing. They may cause leakage of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exercise. Or, you may have a sudden urge to go to the bathroom but not enough time to get there.

Talk to your doctor if you are having bladder control problems. Identifying the cause is important in order to get the right treatment.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence

  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise.

  • Sudden urge to go to the bathroom and a loss of control. A large amount of urine may run down your leg or wet your clothes.

  • Urge to urinate but very little urine comes out, accompanied by leakage

Lifestyle changes can improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence for both men and women. They include eating high-fiber foods, having a healthy weight, cutting back on caffeine and fizzy drinks, and going to the bathroom several times a day. Limiting alcohol and quitting smoking also can help.

Causes of urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence may be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI), constipation, medication, weak urinary tract muscles, problems with the nerves that control urination, or medical problems that make it difficult to get to the bathroom.

Types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress incontinence is when an action that puts pressure on the bladder (such as laughing, sneezing or exercising) causes leakage of urine. Stress incontinence happens when the muscles that control urination are weak.

  • Urge incontinence is a strong, sudden need to urinate with difficulty reaching the bathroom in time. Urge incontinence is sometimes called “overactive bladder”.

  • Overflow incontinence: Urge to go but you can only release a small amount. The bladder then leaks later. Weak bladder muscles, an enlarged prostate gland or a narrow urethra may be the problem.

  • Functional incontinence: a medical or other problem makes it impossible to get to the bathroom in time.

Knowing the cause of urinary incontinence is key to treatment.

Treatment of urinary incontinence

  • Exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles

  • Bladder training

  • Medication

  • Pessary for women (medical device that helps support pelvic organs)

  • Surgery

Primary care is your first stop for healthcare

The primary care providers at MaineHealth have the compassion and skill to care for you and the entire family. They make your health and your family’s health the first priority.