Incontinence Q & A


What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence describes the loss of bladder control. It may be mild, such as the occasional leak when you sneeze or laugh to severe, such as the complete loss of your bladder before you make it to the restroom.

Urinary incontinence may occur as you get older but isn’t inevitable.

What is stress incontinence?

Stress incontinence is the type of urinary incontinence in which urine leaks when you experience a muscular action. Stress action may occur during:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Laughing
  • Jumping
  • Exercising
  • Lifting a heavy object

Stress incontinence can range in severity from mild to severe.

What is urge incontinence?

Urge incontinence describes the condition in which you have a sudden urge to urinate and then urinate involuntarily and suddenly. You may have frequent cases of an urgent need to urinate. Urge incontinence can sometimes be brought on by an infection or a more chronic condition, such as diabetes.

How is urinary incontinence evaluated?

The initial workup for urinary incontinence is a medical history, a urinary sample, and a  comprehensive physical exam.

You may also consider urodynamic studies, which test how well your bladder and surrounding structures hold and release urine. These include voiding studies, pressure profiles, and electromyography to see where you may have leaks or blockages or identify areas of weakness in your bladder.

What are the treatments for urinary incontinence?

Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your incontinence. The team at Donna J. Hagberg, MD, recommends specific lifestyle changes, such as reducing intake of certain aggravating foods and beverages (such as caffeine), management of your fluid intake, and scheduled toilet trips.

You may also benefit from physical therapy that strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor. Certain medications can also calm an overactive bladder. MonaLisa Touch gentle laser treatment can also ease symptoms of urinary incontinence by stimulating the growth of stronger vaginal tissue.

In some cases, specific surgeries to alleviate your bothersome urinary incontinence may be discussed. These may include placing a sling made of mesh or your body’s tissue around your urethra to help keep it closed. Prolapse surgery, which repairs dropping organs, is another possible treatment option.