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Initially, your GP may suggest some simple measures to see if they help improve your symptoms.
These may include:
lifestyle changes - such as losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
pelvic floor exercises - exercising your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing them, taught by a specialist
bladder training - where you learn ways to wait longer between needing to urinate and passing urine, guided by a specialist
You may also benefit from the use of incontinence products, such as absorbent pads and handheld urinals.
Medication may be recommended if you're still unable to manage your symptoms.
Stress incontinence is usually the result of the weakening of or damage to the muscles used to prevent urination, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter.
Urge incontinence is usually the result of overactivity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder.
Overflow incontinence is often caused by an obstruction or blockage to your bladder, which prevents it emptying fully.
Total incontinence may be caused by a problem with the bladder from birth, a spinal injury, or a bladder fistula.
Certain things can increase the chances of urinary incontinence developing, including:
*pregnancy and vaginal birth
*a family history of incontinence
*increasing age - although incontinence is not an inevitable part of ageing
Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine. It's a common problem thought to affect millions of people.
There are several types of urinary incontinence, including:
stress incontinence - when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh
urge incontinence - when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards
overflow incontinence (chronic urinary retention) - when you're unable to fully empty your bladder, which causes frequent leaking
total incontinence - when your bladder can't store any urine at all, which causes you to pass urine constantly or have frequent leaking
It's also possible to have a mixture of both stress and urge urinary incontinence.