About 18 million women have bladder control issues. If you leak urine when laughing, sneezing of coughing, you may have stress urinary incontinence. Leakage associated with the urge to urinate may be so strong that you do not make it to the bathroom in time and is called urgency urinary incontinence or overactive bladder.

Incontinence is an uncomfortable and often embarrassing problem. Other forms of incontinence include fistulas (abnormal connections between the bladder and vagina) or neurologic causes. Often, people suffering from this condition do not report the problem to their doctor, or wait years before seeking treatment.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

  • Stress incontinence - Leakage of urine with coughing, laughing, or sneezing. Leaks also can also occur with walking, running, or exercise. It is caused by a weakening of the tissues that support the bladder or by damage to the urethral sphincter.
  • Urge incontinence - Leakage of urine associated with a sudden strong urge to urinate (before being able to get to the bathroom in time). This type is also called overactive bladder. It occurs if the muscles of the bladder are too active or if there are problems with the nerves that send signals from the brain and spinal cord to the bladder.
  • Mixed incontinence - Leakage associated with symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence.
  • Overflow incontinence - This type of leakage occurs when the bladder does not empty all the way during voiding because the bladder muscle may not be active enough, or the urethra may be blocked.


  • Urinary tract infection
  • Medications such as diuretics and blood pressure medications
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Urinary tract abnormalities such as a fistula, an abnormal opening from the urinary tract into another part of the body
  • Neuromuscular problems with conditions such as diabetes mellitus, stroke, or multiple sclerosis.

Don’t let urinary incontinence affect your life. There are effective medical and surgical incontinence treatments that can relieve symptoms in over 85% of patients.

Location Information

National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery
Physicians Office Building
106 Irving Street, N.W.
Suite POB 405 South
Washington, D.C. 20010-2975

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