Urinary Incontinence

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Why Does Urine Leak?

The body stores urine in the bladder, which is a hollow organ, much like a balloon. During urination, muscles in the bladder tighten to move urine into a tube called the urethra. At the same time, the muscles around the urethra relax and let the urine pass out of the body. When the muscles in and around the bladder don’t work the way they should, urine can leak.

Short Periods of Leaking

Sometimes urinary incontinence happens for a little while. Short periods of leaking urine can happen because of

  • urinary tract in­fections
  • constipation
  • some medicines.

Longer Periods of Leaking

When leaking urine lasts longer, it may be due to

  • weak bladder muscles
  • weak pelvic floor muscles
  • overactive bladder muscles
  • damage to nerves that control the bladder from diseases such as mul­tiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • blockage from an enlarged prostate in men
  • diseases or conditions, such as arthritis, that may make it difficult to get to the bath­room in time
  • pelvic organ prolapse, which is when pelvic organs (such as the bladder, rectum, or uterus) shift out of their normal place into the vagina. When pelvic organs are out of place, the bladder and urethra are not able to work normally, which may cause urine to leak.

(Watch the video to learn how aging affects the bladder. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)