Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is usually caused by problems with the muscles that help the bladder hold or pass urine. Women are twice as likely as men to experience bladder and pelvic health problems because certain health events unique to women, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, can cause problems with these muscles.

These following factors may put you at higher risk for developing Urinary Incontinence:

Weakening of the pelvic floor muscles – These muscles keep the urethra closed and they are the ‘sling’ of muscles that supports the bladder, bowel, and uterus. Incontinence happened when they start weakening and losing strength. Simple activities such as laughing, coughing, lifting, or running, could cause urine to leak.

Menopause – Some women have bladder control problems after they stop having periods. Researchers think having low levels of the hormone estrogen after menopause may weaken the urethra. The urethra helps keep urine in the bladder until you are ready to urinate. Also, like all muscles, the pelvic floor muscles lose some of their strength as you get older. Which means you may not be able to hold as much urine as you get older.

Pregnancy – As many as 4 in 10 women get urinary incontinence during pregnancy. During pregnancy, as your unborn baby grows, the extra weight carried can put pressure on your bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. Over time, this pressure may weaken the pelvic floor muscles and lead to leaks or problems passing urine.

Childbirth – Certainly, not all pregnant patients have incontinence following delivery. Most problems with bladder control during pregnancy go away after childbirth when the muscles have had some time to heal. But pregnancy can predispose to urinary incontinence, especially in the case of a vaginal delivery. As the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments are stretched when giving birth, which can sometimes lengthen the tissues permanently and become a risk for incontinence. If you are still having bladder problems 6 weeks after childbirth, talk to your doctor, nurse, or midwife.

Constipation – Problems with bladder control can happen to people with long-term (chronic) constipation. Constipation, or straining to have a bowel movement, can put stress or pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. This weakens the muscles and can cause urinary incontinence or leaking.

Infection – Infections of the urinary tract and bladder may cause incontinence for a short time. They can lead to bladder hypersensitivity. This is when the bladder incorrectly tells the body that it needs emptying – urgently – when it is not completely full. Bladder control often returns when the infection goes away.

High-impact sports – While sports do not cause incontinence, running, jumping, and other activities that create sudden pressure on the bladder can lead to occasional episodes of incontinence during sports activities.

Smoking – A chronic smoker’s cough can trigger or aggravate stress incontinence by putting pressure on the urinary sphincter.

Advancing age – As we get older, our bladder and urinary sphincter muscles often weaken, which may result in frequent and unexpected urges to urinate. Even though incontinence is more common in older people, it is not considered a normal part of aging.

Excess body fat & Overweight – Extra body fat increases the pressure on the bladder and can lead to urine leakage during exercise or when coughing or sneezing.

Other chronic diseases – Vascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions may increase the risk of urinary incontinence.