What is Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence?- different types.

Urinary incontinence occurs when the normal process of storing and passing urine is disrupted causing involuntary leakage of urine. Some people will experience minor leaks occasionally, while others will wet their clothes. The condition can affect both men and women and can occur at any age. Women are more susceptible because of childbirth.

There are five different types of urinary incontinence

  • Stress urinary incontinence - SUI
    Stress incontinence occurs when the pressure in the abdomen exceeds the urethral closure pressure which results in involuntary leakage or urine.
  • Urge urinary incontinence - UI
    Urge incontinence occurs when the bladder is either unstable or overactive. A sudden involuntary contraction of the bladder’s muscular wall can occur, which can give rise to urinary urgency – an urge to urinate which cannot be supressed and an involuntary loss of urine for no apparent reason.

  • Mixed urinary incontinence - MUI
    Mixed urinary incontinence is classified as a mixture of both stress and urge incontinence.

  • Overflow urinary incontinence
    More commonly experienced by men, overflow incontinence is often caused by a blockage or obstruction to the bladder outlet, such as an enlarged prostate gland, bladder stones or constipation making it impossible to empty the bladder properly.

  • Functional incontinence
    Some, mainly older, individuals are incontinent simply because a physical or mental impairment prevents them from reaching the toilet in time.

The information you provide is great - practical, realistic and evidence based!

  • Causes of stress incontinence

Stress incontinence is when the pressure inside your bladder as it fills with urine becomes greater than the strength of your urethra to stay closed. Your urethra is the tube that urine passes through to leave the body.

Any sudden extra pressure on your bladder, such as laughing or sneezing, can cause urine to leak out of your urethra if you have stress incontinence.

Your urethra may not be able to stay closed if the muscles in your pelvis (pelvic floor muscles) are weak or damaged, or if your urethral sphincter – the ring of muscle that keeps the urethra closed – is damaged.

Problems with these muscles may be caused by:

  • damage during childbirth – particularly if your baby was born vaginally, rather than by caesarean section
  • increased pressure on your tummy – for example, because you are pregnant or obese
  • damage to the bladder or nearby area during surgery – such as the removal of the womb (hysterectomy), or removal of the prostate gland
  • neurological conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis
  • certain connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • certain medicines


Lack of knowledge was making me frustrated and upset - I am so glad I contacted you!

BHUK has partnered with one of our Corporate Partners to run a survey on Stress Urinary Incontinence and your experience of and awareness about the treatment options availble via the NHS. Click here to takle the survey.

New NHS guidelines are out for consultation from the 9th October and BHUK will be commenting on the guidelines as we are a registered body. By taking our survey you will help us to represent our patients more effectively. Thank you.

How can BHUK help you, if you join us?


Members Magazine "Your Bladder Health", published 3 times per year.


An excellent booklet written to provide practical help and advice.


Telephone Advice Line – 0121 702 0820


Telephone contact - with a BHUK Phone-Pal and fellow sufferer.


Comprehensive Resources - fact sheets, DVDs, lending library, Can't Wait Cards and much more.


Message Forums- exchange personal experiences of bladder illness with others.


Social Media sites including Facebook @BladderHealthUK and Twitter #bladdersupport

Area Co-ordinator

Area Co-ordinator - providing an opportunity to have personal contact with other sufferers.

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