Causes of Urinary Incontinence

By Max. D Gray. Updated: May 31, 2018
Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the term used to refer to the involuntary loss of urine when one does not have sufficient capacity to prevent the flow of urine from the urethra. It is a common condition in the elderly and in older women, who often suffer a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. However, it can also be caused by other diseases and health problems, as discussed throughout this OneHowTo article.

To control the urinary incontinence, it is important to identify its cause and initiate appropriate treatment, in addition to some changes in lifestyle. Read on if you want to know what are the possible causes of urinary incontinence.

You may also be interested in: How to Control Urinary Leakage

Pelvic floor weakness

The most common cause of urinary incontinence is a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, which serve to sustain and maintain the position of the bladder, the uterus and the rectum. When those muscles lose elasticity and become weak, some accidental loss of urine is guaranteed when performing small gestures or certain actions such as sneezing, coughing, laughing heavily, exercising, lifting heavy objects, etc.

Apart from the frail and elderly, this is a problem seen more frequently in pregnant women or those going through menopause.

Pregnancy and childbirth

The body undergoes many physical and hormonal changes during a pregnancy. Urinary incontinence is one of the conditions that pregnant women can suffer as their bellies swell. Among the factors that increase the chances of having a severe urine leakage are hormonal changes and the growing belly and uterus putting too much pressure on the bladder. In addition, the great effort made by women during childbirth can ultimately affect the pelvic floor muscles, making them give way and weakening them.

To prevent urinary incontinence during pregnancy it is recommended to control weight gain and to try out Kegel exercises, which help strengthen the pelvic floor and prepare the body for childbirth.


At the stage of menopause, the body undergoes a decrease in the amount of estrogen, which among other things affects the strength of the pelvic muscles, weakening them and thus causing problems in controlling urination. As this happens, women feel a compelling urge to urinate and they suffer small leaks when they carry out physical effort during the working day.

In this case, you should consult your doctor to see if you need to start some kind of treatment to help regain control of your functions.

Apart from the above, it is also important to note that being overweight means there is an excess pressure on both the abdominal muscles and the pelvic muscles, so it could also end up causing urinary incontinence.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Pelvic floor weakness

Infections in the urinary tract

Infections in the urinary tract, such as cystitis, may cause transient urinary incontinence. In these cases there is bladder hypersensitivity; when that organ is yet to be completely filled, it sends the wrong signals to the brain telling you to urinate urgently. Besides the need to urinate frequently, this condition is manifested by symptoms such as itching, burning and pain during urination, cloudy or presence of blood urine, feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen, discomfort during sexual intercourse, fever, chills, etc.

We recommend that you build on this information by consulting our OneHowTo article on what are the symptoms of urinary tract infection; if you show such symptoms, you should go to the doctor to start the right treatment, which is usually based on antibiotic drugs.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Infections in the urinary tract

Bladder stones

The presence of kidney or bladder stones can also cause urinary incontinence, and other symptoms such as pain when urinating, the urge to urinate frequently, uncontrolled urine flow out, dark or blood in the urine, etc. These build-ups of minerals can be caused by infections in the urinary tract, bladder diverticula, enlarged prostate, inability to control the bladder, among other conditions.

It is always necessary to consult a specialist, because even though the patient may remove stones by ingesting large amounts of water, when they are too large or they are not ejected spontaneously they may require medical or surgical intervention. In the following article you can see more about bladder stones: signs, symptoms and diagnosis.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Bladder stones

Urogenital fistula

The term "fistula" refers to the existence of an abnormal connection between two body parts. In this case, urogenital fistulas signal an abnormal connection between the urinary tract and the genital tract. For example, some women have an opening in the urinary tract which leads into the vagina, through which urine is expelled and consequently, they suffer constant urine loss and other symptoms such as irritation in their genital area.

This is a condition that requires medical diagnosis and comprehensive follow-up. It is very likely to require surgery to cure.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Urogenital fistula

Neurological damage

When there is brain damage or neuromuscular problems, it is possible that signals from the brain to the spinal cord can not connect properly with the bladder. Thus, the ability to control the latter is lost, and it can be that it's never emptied completely, which consequently leads to involuntary urine loss.

This type of urinary incontinence is usually associated with diseases or conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson's disease or spina bifida, among others.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Neurological damage


Another possible causes of urinary incontinence is taking diuretic drugs - that is, medication that stimulates the flow of urine. These drugs can cause urine loss as a side effect and before such a case, it is important to talk with your doctor and inquire about the possibility of modifying the treatment that is being followed.

In addition to these, some drugs indicated to regulate blood pressure can also cause the same side effect in patients who consume them.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence - Medication

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Causes of Urinary Incontinence, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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