Urinary incontinence refers to the inability to control the bladder or to prevent unintentional urine flow or leakage. There are three primary types of urinary incontinence:
Incontinence can also occur in people with certain neuromuscular diseases and in people with impaired mobility who have difficulty making it to a bathroom in time to urinate. Sometimes, incontinence can be caused or exacerbated by medications or other underlying diseases. Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence, and it can be caused by many factors, including injury or muscle weakening from childbirth, obesity, traumatic injury and changes that occur during menopause.
Diagnosing the type and cause of incontinence begins with a physical exam and a medical history, often followed by a pelvic exam, lab tests, diagnostic imaging or other in-office evaluations used to measure the capacity and function of the bladder and the strength of the pelvic floor muscles, a network of supportive and connective tissues that “hold up” the bladder.
Urinary incontinence is not a “natural” part of aging; there are plenty of treatment that can help control urinary incontinence symptoms to help patients lead more comfortable, more confident lives. Some types of urinary incontinence may be treated with medication, often in combination with exercises to restore tone and strength to the pelvic floor muscles. Other types of incontinence are best treated with surgery using minimally-invasive approaches or robot-assisted techniques using the da Vinci surgical robot. Surgery can be used to repair damaged pelvic floor muscles or to provide additional support, relieving symptoms and preventing embarrassing leakage.