Urinary incontinence is a symptom resulting in loss of control of the bladder contents.
It is a common problem that increases in prevalence with age and is more common in women than men.
It is important to report this condition to your doctor or health care provider, as a thorough evaluation can usually determine the cause of your incontinence or an underlying health condition that may be contributing to incontinence.
To better understand incontinence, it helps to understand the urine and the elimination process.
- Urine is waste products and water removed from the blood by the kidneys.
- Urine flows from the kidneys downwards through a pair of tubes (the ureters) to the bladder.
- The bladder is a balloon-like structure that stores urine. Urine leaves the body through another tube (the urethra) at the bottom of the bladder.
- Urination is controlled by special muscles, called sphincters, located at the base of the bladder and the wall of the urethra. These normally control the flow of urine by contracting and therefore closing off the neck of the bladder and the urethra, like a tie around the bottom of a balloon, so that no urine is leaked.
- When the sphincters relax, they open the passage for urine to pass. At the same time, the muscle of the bladder wall contracts (squeezes) and forces the urine out of the bladder. When the urination process is finished, the sphincters contract and the bladder itself stop squeezing and relax
Investigation of Urinary Incontinence
- Cystogram. This is an X-ray of your bladder in action.
- Cystoscopy. Your doctor will insert a slender tube with a tiny lens into your urethra to check it out, as well as the lining of your bladder.
- Pelvic ultrasound or renal ultrasound.
- Urodynamic testing.