Urinary incontinence can be a debilitating disease process that is defined as the inadvertent leakage of urine from bladder. The most common types of incontinence are stress incontinence, where leakage occurs with activity, coughing, sneezing, or heavy lifting, and urge incontinence, where patients feel an intense need to urinate that results in urinary leakage before reaching a bathroom. In addition to personal frustration and problems with local skin irritation from persistent dampness, incontinence often results in troublesome social issues as well.
Stress incontinence in women is commonly the result of pelvic floor laxity secondary to childbirth, which differs from men, where it is usually due to previous radiation therapy or surgery for prostatic problems. Urge incontinence may be secondary to bladder irritation from an infection, which can be treated with antibiotics, but often the etiology is unidentifiable.
There are multiple therapies that are tailored to treat different types of incontinence. While urge incontinence is generally medically managed, stress incontinence usually requires a surgical procedure (ie. placement of a sling or artificial urethral sphincter) for treatment.