Urinary Incontinence


If you have a frequent or sudden need to urinate, or if you can’t control your bladder, you may have urinary incontinence. It happens to men and women, but it’s more common in women – especially as you age.

Risk Factors

There are many causes of urinary incontinence:
  • Diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (MS) can damage the nerves that control your bladder. 
  • Vaginal childbirth can weaken the muscles that control your bladder.
  • Urinary tract diseases, strokes, surgeries and treatments for pelvic cancers can also cause urinary incontinence.


There are many types of urinary incontinence:

Urge incontinence is common in older men and women. It’s also called overactive bladder, spastic bladder or reflex incontinence. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling a sudden need to urinate
  • Feeling a frequent need to urinate (more than 7 times a day or 2 times a night)
  • Weak bladder control and leaking

Stress incontinence is common in women, especially if you’ve given birth vaginally. Symptoms include:

  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise or do another activity that puts sudden pressure on your bladder

Overflow incontinence happens when your bladder doesn’t empty completely. Symptoms include:
  • Dribbling urine 
  • Needing to urinate frequently

Functional incontinence happens when you can’t move, think or communicate well enough to get to the bathroom on time. It’s most likely to happen if you’re elderly, have severe arthritis or suffer from a disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Services & Treatment

An Aurora urologist can discuss your symptoms and work with you on a treatment plan to meet your needs. 

Depending on the type of urinary incontinence you have, your treatment options include:

  • Behavioral modification therapy: Your urologist might suggest techniques like limiting the amount of fluid you drink, eliminating caffeine because it irritates your bladder or bladder training, which involves teaching yourself to hold your urine longer.
  • Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor: In women, this is the area between your vagina and your anus. In men, it’s the area between your scrotum and your anus.
  • Injections: Your urologist injects a substance into your urethra that thickens its walls so that it seals more tightly to prevent urine from leaking.
  • InterStim® therapy: Your urologist implants a small device – about the size of a stopwatch – under the skin of your hip. It sends mild electric impulses to your sacral nerve, which controls the muscles of your bladder.
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Sling procedures: In this minimally invasive surgery, your urologist puts a sling made of synthetic or natural material around your urethra to lift it back to its normal position.

Prostate problems? You’ve got options.

Start Living Well 
Bret Laven, MD, urologist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, discusses urinary incontinence treatment options for men.

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