The cause of urinary incontinence depends on the type you have. All types of incontinence get more likely as you get older. Things that increase your risk of stress incontinence include being pregnant, giving birth vaginally, being overweight, having had treatment for prostate cancer, and being constipated. For more information, see our section on causes of incontinence.
Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your GP if you have incontinence. They’ll encourage you to follow self-help measures. These include losing excess weight, drinking less caffeine and doing pelvic floor exercises. They may also carry out some tests to check for any underlying conditions. Depending on what type of incontinence you have, medicines or surgery may be an option for you. For more information, see our section on treatment of incontinence.
The two main types of urinary incontinence are called urge incontinence and stress incontinence. With urge incontinence, you feel a sudden urge to pee which is difficult to put off. You need to rush to the toilet. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks out if you sneeze, cough or do strenuous exercise (especially lifting weights). You may have both types – this is called mixed incontinence.
Having urinary incontinence may affect your life in many areas. It can cause problems with work and leisure activities and lead to problems in your relationships and sex life. You may feel less like going out and become socially isolated, anxious and even depressed. Many people don’t seek medical help, perhaps because they feel embarrassed. But there’s a lot of help available, and things that you can do yourself to help improve your symptoms. Urinary incontinence can also be a symptom of an underlying condition. So, it’s important to be checked by your doctor. For more information, see our sections on self-help and treatment.
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