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Loss of Urine: An Explanation of Urinary Incontinence

A person who has loss of urine that cannot be controlled is likely to be concerned with what is causing this. People experiencing incontinence realize that there are some activities that can trigger this loss of urine. When an urgent need to urinate arises, some loss of urine might occur before reaching a restroom. Some women cannot figure out the cause for their incontinence. With the help of a doctor, it is possible to deal with the problems that come with incontinence.

Bladder Function and Failure

The bladder, a muscle, is designed to store urine until the body is ready to use a restroom. This function should occur without resulting in a feeling of urgency or pain, such as cramping in the abdomen, and the urethra stays closed and does not leak. When you are able to use a restroom, the bladder is designed to empty itself completely. Incontinence arises because one of these functions is not working properly.

Types of Incontinence

Urge incontinence in women is caused by overuse of the bladder muscle. The urge to urinate is not always present, and the loss of urine might happen without notice, which is referred to as unconscious or spontaneous loss. The amount of urine that is leaked is important and is often linked with using the restroom at least once an hour. In some cases, frequent urination can also occur at night, which is called nocturia. Women who suffer from this might need to use the restroom as often as once an hour throughout the night. 

It is important to note that if symptoms of incontinence appear only during nighttime this does not indicate a bladder problem. In these instances, it is often the case that there is either a sleep disturbance or a large amount of fluid remaining in the woman at night. Treatment for incontinence occurring only at night should focus on the main cause and not on the bladder. 

Another form of uncontrollable loss of urine is stress incontinence. The channel through which the urine passes can weaken because of childbirth, previous incontinence surgery, a hysterectomy, or change in hormone levels. Tightening the muscles in the pelvis can often help, but when it does not help, loss of urine occurs. Symptoms for stress incontinence appear during strenuous activities, such as bending over, lifting an object, and standing up. They can also appear during an activity that puts pressure on the abdomen, such as laughing, coughing, or sneezing. Some women have a urethra that does not function well at all, to the point that any small movement causes loss of urine. These more severe cases are very similar to spontaneous incontinence. Figuring out which form of incontinence a woman has is not easy when based solely on the symptoms. 

Varying Symptoms 

An additional complication to the already troubling loss of urine symptoms is that most women with incontinence experience the symptoms for both kinds, urgency and stress. Sometimes the symptoms for one kind are stronger, but often, the symptoms are equal. There are only a few symptoms that the bladder can exhibit, which is the reason for this overlapping of symptoms. If urine exits when a person is not urinating, the bladder can become irritated, causing the bladder muscle to contract involuntarily.

Understanding Incontinence 

Is it possible to know which incontinence a person is experiencing? About half of the women that experience loss of urine figure out what the main cause is for them by keeping a diary of their fluid intake, urination time, and incontinence and by answering questions about their daily activities and events. However, these tools cannot always pinpoint the cause of incontinence. 

Additional Tests 

A doctor can analyze your medical records, conduct a physical exam, and perform advanced tests to help pinpoint the type of loss of urine the patient is experiencing. There are some facts about yourself that can tell the doctor the reasons for your symptoms. A pelvic exam, which attempts to trigger loss of urine, can also be performed. During this exam, a patient is asked to do basic activities when their bladder is full, such as bending, walking, coughing, and pushing down. This can help recognize what activities cause leakage and can also identify other issues, such as a weakened bladder or vaginal prolapse. Protective pads, which are sometimes used during the pelvic exam, can indicate the volume of loss of urine.

Urodynamics, another common test in incontinence identification, requires a full bladder to duplicate the loss of urine regularly experienced. These exams and symptoms can help in utilizing the best forms of treatment. 


Keep a record of your symptoms to understand what causes your loss of urine and what improves or worsens the incontinence. Blood in your urine, pain located in pelvis when urinating, and similar problems that seem relative to the urine loss should be reported to your doctor. 

You and your doctor can gain control of the loss of urine, so that you can continue any activities that have changed due to this condition.

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Dr. Aguirre
Dr. Aguirre is the Director of Aguirre Specialty Care, The Center for Female Pelvic Medicine. Dr. Aguirre is also a member of the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America.
The Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America is founded and directed by Dr. David L. Matlock.

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