urinary incontinence

Shining a Light on Urinary Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms, and Types

urinary incontinence

“Oops, I peed!!” Anyone ever have this experience? Peeing (or tinkling) in your pants when you jump, laugh, or even just all of a sudden are forms of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a form of dysfunctional voiding defined as any unwanted loss of urine.

Other things are ALSO dysfunctional voiding

  • “Just in Case” peeing
  • Semi squatting (hovering over the toilet)
  • Pelvic floor exercises on the toilet
  • Straining
  • Frequent postpartum urination due to pregnancy habits
  • Bathroom mapping (making yourself constantly aware of the bathroom location everywhere you go)

Studies show that urinary incontinence affects roughly 51.1% women and 13.9%, men, though many of these numbers are often underreported due to the embarrassing nature of these concerns.


Anyone who struggles with urinary incontinence I’m sure has felt the embarrassment of the moment. It creates a silence of shame around discussing this unknowingly common concern!


  • Hesitancy (the stream doesn’t start immediately when you sit down)
  • Slow stream
  • Intermittency (flow stops and starts)
  • Spraying
  • Straining
  • Incomplete emptying
  • Immediate re-void
  • Post-urination leak
  • Position-dependent leak
  • Pain with urination
  • Retention


With all of these symptoms, you can bet the reality of incontinence is, there are many different types of urinary incontinence, as well as, many different possible causes of urinary incontinence.


  • Pregnancy
  • C-section or vaginal delivery (with or without complications)
  • Radiation
  • Prostate cancer
  • Previous surgeries
  • Congenital issues
  • the list goes on…


STRESS URNIARY INCONTINENCE (SUI) occurs during events which cause an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, stress, or compression on your bladder causing leaking. Such as: cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, etc.

URGE INCONTIENCE causes your body to send you the “time to go” signal even though you may not be near a bathroom, have your pants down, or anything, and then suddenly you feel urine just coming out! There are different things that can trigger the urge signal as well, such as walking into a cold environment.

MIXED INCONTIENCE simply means that you have a combination of the prior two, stress events and urge triggers, will cause you to leak urine.

OVERFLOW INCONTIENCE is something I struggled with (typically those in the medical and teaching professions). Bladder capacity is about 1.5-2.5 cups of fluid. If we constantly defer or ignore the urge to go, our bladder becomes overstretched. To combat this, it will eventually begin to push urine out. If you repeatedly over stretch the bladder muscle, it will lose its ability to contract.

POSTURAL INCONTIENCE sometimes gets lumped into stress incontinence, however the main difference is that the loss of urine occurs with a change in body position.

INSENSIBLE INCONTIENCE occurs when you have no clue how the incontinence occurred. Oftentimes people will explain that for a long time they believed it to be discharge but then realized it smelled like urine.

COITAL INCONTIENCE occurs with sexual activity (both penetrative and non penetrative). This type of incontinence happens during penetration because the bladder is being bumped. Also, loss of urine can also occur during orgasm.

FUNCTIONAL INCONTIENCE is a difficulty physically getting to the bathroom and undressing in time. This can occur to individuals young and old. A home with little ones running around can have many tripping hazards, someone who has a walker faces their own challenges.

The wild thing is: there are so MANY different types of urinary incontinence, and they are often lumped into the one complaint! The type dictates which treatments will or will not be beneficial to you.


Many people think that they have normal discharge until they begin to notice a urine-like odor. It is actually very easy to test this out! Simply, take an over the counter medication with Phenazopyridine , which will turn your urine a vibrant orange color for a short period of time. Then wear a pad and if the pad turns orange, you have your answer!

Urinary incontinence is common, but it is NOT normal, and there is help available!

Finally, it is important to note that if you have dealt with urinary incontinence before, there is also a chance of relapse (remission). Studies vary on the rate of remission, however many report upwards of 30%.

MY MOTTO: The best defense is a good offense, so get in and get help!!


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