What Are the Four Types of Incontinence?

According to the Mayo Clinic, surgery, pregnancy, neurological issues, and childbirth are a few things that can cause urinary incontinence. Though in other circumstances, it shows up gradually over time due to age-related changes.

There are four main types of urinary incontinence, and knowing the kind you have may help you and your doctor take the appropriate steps to manage it. Additionally, with minor changes like monitoring your lifestyle, adjusting your medication, and wearing disposable absorbent underwear, you can continue living your best life despite your incontinence.

A group of friends laughing together on the beach

A group of friends laughing together on the beach. With four distinct categories and various potential combinations, not everyone will experience urinary incontinence the same way.

Different Types of Incontinence

The four main incontinence types are stress, urge, overflow, and functional incontinence. Even so, you may experience more than one of these at the same time.

Stress Incontinence Can Be Triggered by a Cough or Sneeze

Stress incontinence happens when external pressure squeezes the bladder and unexpectedly pushes urine out. This often occurs when your abdominal muscles contract because of a sneeze, laughter, coughing, or physical exertion like bending, lifting, or sitting.

Muscles under the bladder and around the urethra, also called the pelvic floor, can typically counteract this pressure. However, pelvic floor muscles can become too weak to hold back your urine the way they should if you experienced any of the following:

  • Pregnancy or childbirth
  • Hysterectomy
  • High-impact sports that involve repetitive running or jumping
  • Obesity

Stress incontinence leakage is often minor and may happen infrequently, making it easy to overlook or forget.

Urge Incontinence Can Be Caused by Health Conditions

Urge incontinence, also called urgency incontinence or an overactive bladder, is marked by involuntary bladder contractions and an intense sensation that you need to urinate. These urges can strike any time, day or night, often without warning and even right after you've relieved yourself.

If your bladder isn't completely empty and you can't make it to the bathroom in time, these bladder muscle contractions can trigger spontaneous urination.

Specific health conditions have been known to lead to urge incontinence, including:

  • A urinary tract infection (UTI) - As soon as the infection clears up, the incontinence usually also goes away
  • Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions that block the transmission of signals between the brain and bladder
  • Diabetes, which can cause nerve damage and decrease your ability to control your bladder
  • Spine or brain damage

Overflow Incontinence Is More Common in Men

If you cannot fully empty your bladder when urinating, you likely have overflow incontinence. This urinary retention leads to a persistently full bladder and a slow, steady dribble of liquid between trips to the restroom.

More common in men than women, overflow incontinence is often the result of prostate issues or surgery. However, other health issues can be blamed. You may have trouble emptying your bladder if:

  • You have an enlarged prostate or another blockage that impedes urine flow from your bladder.
  • You take diuretic medications, which increase urine production and fill your bladder faster.
  • Your bladder muscles are weak and don’t contract as thoroughly as they should. This can happen as part of the normal aging process.
  • You’ve had your prostate removed. This gland helps you hold in your urine, so you may experience more leakage when it's gone.

A Physical or Mental Condition Can Cause Functional Incontinence

Unlike other incontinence types, functional incontinence is not caused by bladder, prostate, or pelvic floor issues. Instead, it occurs when a person has difficulty getting to the bathroom or disrobing in time because of physical limitations.

For example, a person may experience functional incontinence because of:

  • Arthritis in their hands: Arthritis can cause severe joint pain, making it challenging to work buttons, snaps, or zippers.
  • Conditions limiting mobility: Using a walker, wheelchair, or even a cane can affect a person’s ability to get to the bathroom quickly.
  • Dementia: A person with dementia may not process physical signals or urges from their brain telling them it's time to locate a toilet.

The urgency to urinate grows or persists while you try to reach the toilet. Additionally, you may have more than one kind of incontinence. For example, a combination of functional and urge incontinence can make it more difficult for you to avoid accidents.

Absorbent Disposable Underwear For All Types of Incontinence

Your first line of defense to deal with incontinence should be to talk to your doctor who will be able to recommend the best course of long term action. However, for as long as you need it and no matter the incontinence type you may have, Made for Living can help you remain active, social, and shame-free. Sign up for our subscription service to receive your incontinence products at your doorstep. 

We'll mail you a welcome package containing different size options, which will allow you to determine the best fit for you.

Best of all, you can modify your subscription or cancel anytime if you're not satisfied. However, if you aren't happy, we would love to hear about it so we can make improvements. There is no risk or obligation, so contact us or fill out the online form to get started today.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published


No more products available for purchase

Your cart is currently empty.