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Healthy Living Blog

Stress vs. Urge Incontinence

November 30, 2017 | Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team


stress vs urge incontinenceUrinary incontinence is embarrassing, but understanding what type of incontinence you have can help you better control it. Armed with information, you can make smarter lifestyle changes, and have an educated conversation with your physician about treatment options.

Let’s take a look at the difference between two of the most common types of urinary incontinence, stress vs. urge incontinence.

What is Stress Incontinence?

Stress incontinence happens when pressure is put on your bladder from physical activity. This includes sneezing, coughing, exercising, heavy lifting and even sex. While it may not occur every time you take these actions, any pressure-increasing activity can trigger stress incontinence, especially if your bladder is full.

This type of incontinence is caused when the muscles and tissues supporting the bladder, called the pelvic floor muscles, become weakened. It is also the result of a weakened urinary sphincter, which is comprised of the muscles that regulate the urine release.

A common cause in men is prostate surgery, while in women, a common cause is childbirth. Both of these can damage the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles.

What is Urge Incontinence?

As the name suggests, urge incontinence is when you get a sudden urge to pass urine and sometimes it leaks before you can reach the restroom. Urge incontinence is a symptom of overactive bladder (OAB).

For those who experience urge incontinence, the bladder muscle is sending the message to the brain that the bladder is full when it actually isn’t. This causes the bladder to contract, giving the sensation that urine must be passed. You’ll be able to tell if this happening to you, and it should be addressed with your doctor if you’re urinating eight or more times in a day and getting up two or more times during the night.

What to Do Next

While this may be an uncomfortable subject to discuss with your doctor, there are treatment methods he or she can go over with you to help you live more comfortably. From lifestyle changes to medication and exercise, there are several ways to treat incontinence.

It starts with talking to your physician, who can determine which type of incontinence you have, and from there, what treatment options will work best. Your doctor likely will ask about your lifestyle—such as liquid intake—and your overall health to determine what’s causing your incontinence. From there, he or she will run some diagnostic tests to make an accurate diagnosis.

To learn more about incontinence for men, download our guide, When to Get Help for Male Incontinence. To learn more about female incontinence, download our guide, When to Get Help for Female Incontinence. Get back to living your life uninterrupted today.

Male Incontinence Guide

Female Incontinence Guide