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Urinary incontinence

Causes, types and treatments for urinary incontinence

Woman with urinary incontinence holds her lower abdomen in discomfort while rushing to the bathroom
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary release of urine, which can occur due to a variety of reasons, including stress, age and underlying medical conditions. Incontinence can be a mild or severe issue. There are various types of urinary incontinence, including stress, urge and overflow incontinence, each with its own specific symptoms and causes.

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The good news is that urinary incontinence is treatable and many people can manage their symptoms effectively with the help of private urinary incontinence treatment.

At Circle Health Group, we understand that urinary incontinence can be a challenging and stressful condition to live with, and a sensitive and embarrassing issue to seek help for, which is why we offer private treatment options to help you get back to your normal routine. Our specialist consultants have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence. We offer a variety of private treatment options to help you regain control of your bladder and improve your quality of life.

For more information on urinary incontinence or other conditions that affect your bladder, our experienced consultants are here to help you. Call or book online today and you could have your initial consultation in as soon as 48 hours.

The symptoms of urinary incontinence can range from mild to severe, often depending on the underlying cause. Some common symptoms include frequent urination, accidental leaks, and the need to rush to the bathroom. Different people experience incontinence in different ways, and our treatment options will differ depending on the key symptoms and how they affect you.

Common symptoms of urinary incontinence include:

  • Leaking urine unexpectedly or involuntarily
  • Feeling a strong and sudden urge to urinate
  • Going to the bathroom frequently, especially at night
  • Urine leakage during physical activity, such as coughing, laughing, or sneezing
  • Inability to control the release of urine
  • Urinary incontinence in men, such as dribbling or leaking after urination

Urinary incontinence is a complex condition with a range of different symptoms. Those that you present with will often depend on the type of incontinence you are experiencing. Understanding the different types of urinary incontinence can help you determine the best course of action to address your personal symptoms.

Stress urinary incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence occurs when you experience a loss of bladder control during physical activities, such as exercise, coughing, or laughing. This is often caused by weakened pelvic muscles, which are unable to support the bladder and prevent leaks.

Urge urinary incontinence

Urge incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence that causes a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including bladder overactivity, nerve damage, or bladder muscle weakness.

Mixed urinary incontinence

Mixed urinary incontinence is a combination of both stress and urge incontinence, and is the most common type of incontinence. This type of incontinence can be more difficult to diagnose and treat, as it involves a combination of different symptoms.

Urinary incontinence in men

Urinary incontinence is not just a women's issue - it can also affect men. Male urinary incontinence is often caused by prostate problems, nerve damage, or complications after surgery. Symptoms can include a weak urine stream, frequent urination, or leaks.

If you are experiencing symptoms of urinary incontinence, it's important to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Our specialists at Circle Health Group are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of urinary incontinence and can help you find the best course of action for managing your symptoms. Book your consultation today to start on your journey to regaining control.

The causes of urinary incontinence vary widely, but understanding the cause of your problems helps you and your consultant to identify the best course of treatment. In this section, we will explore the various causes of urinary incontinence, including both physical and psychological factors.

Physical causes of urinary incontinence

There are a number of physical factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence, including:

  • Ageing - As people age, the muscles in the pelvic region can weaken, leading to urinary incontinence
  • Neurological conditions - Conditions such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries can disrupt the normal functioning of the bladder and cause incontinence
  • Pregnancy and childbirth - During pregnancy, the weight of the growing baby can put pressure on the bladder, leading to urinary incontinence. Childbirth can also weaken the pelvic muscles, contributing to the condition
  • Prostate problems - Problems with the prostate, such as an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, can lead to urinary incontinence in men

Psychological causes of urinary incontinence

In addition to physical factors, there are also psychological causes of urinary incontinence, including:

  • Stress - Stress can cause a person to involuntarily contract their bladder muscles, leading to incontinence
  • Depression and anxiety - Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also contribute to urinary incontinence
  • Cognitive problems - Cognitive issues such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease can also lead to urinary incontinence

Medications and urinary incontinence

Certain medications can also cause urinary incontinence, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - SSRIs are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, but they can also lead to incontinence
  • Diuretics - Diuretics are used to remove excess fluid from the body, but they can also increase the need to urinate, leading to incontinence
  • Bladder control medications - Medications used to treat urinary incontinence can sometimes have side effects that lead to incontinence

Urinary incontinence can be a distressing and embarrassing condition, but there are many effective treatments available to manage it. Whether you are experiencing stress, urge, or overflow urinary incontinence, there are both non-surgical and surgical options to choose from, each with its own set of benefits and risks.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are often the first line of treatment for urinary incontinence and can be effective in improving symptoms. This may include making changes to your diet, reducing your fluid intake, or avoiding bladder irritants. Simple exercises, for example pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises (Kegels), can also help to improve bladder control.

Bladder retraining

Bladder retraining involves gradually increasing the amount of time between bathroom trips and retraining your bladder to hold more urine. This can be an effective way to manage urge urinary incontinence and can be combined with other treatments such as pelvic floor exercises.


There are various medications available to treat urinary incontinence, including over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. These medications work by relaxing the bladder muscles, reducing bladder contractions, or increasing bladder capacity. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best medication for your individual needs.

Sling procedures

Sling procedures are a type of surgery that involves placing a supportive device under the bladder neck to improve bladder control. This type of surgery is usually recommended for stress urinary incontinence and can be performed using different types of slings, including synthetic or biological material. Different types are used for male and female incontinence.

Artificial urinary sphincter

Artificial urinary sphincters are designed to compress the urethra of men suffering from incontinence, controlling the flow of urine.

Sacral neuromodulation

This is where a small device, similar to a pacemaker, is surgically implanted just beneath the skin in the upper buttock. This device acts as a battery and stimulates the appropriate nerves via the implanted wire by using mild electrical impulses. By doing this, it can help restore coordination between brain, pelvic floor, bladder or bowel and sphincter muscles.

During your initial consultation, we will assess your individual symptoms, determine the type of urinary incontinence you are experiencing, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that works best for you.

To make a diagnosis, our specialist consultants will take a thorough medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms and any previous treatments you have received. We may also perform a physical examination.

Sometimes, we may recommend additional tests or scans to help determine the underlying cause of your urinary incontinence. This may include tests such as a bladder diary, urodynamic testing, or ultrasound imaging. The results of these tests will help our specialists make an accurate diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment for you.

Based on the results of your initial consultation and any tests or scans we may have performed, our specialists will determine the best course of treatment for you. This may include non-surgical options, such as pelvic floor exercises, urinary incontinence medication, or a female urinary incontinence device. In more severe cases, surgical treatment may be recommended.

Don't let urinary incontinence control your life. Book a consultation with one of our specialist consultants at Circle Health Group today to find out more about private urinary incontinence treatment options.

We answer some of your frequently asked questions about urinary incontinence.

Can anaesthesia cause urinary incontinence?

Anaesthesia can have a temporary effect on bladder control and may cause temporary urinary incontinence. However, in most cases, this effect is only temporary and resolves within a few days after the procedure.

Can gallstones cause urinary incontinence?

Gallstones themselves do not directly cause urinary incontinence. However, in some cases, gallstones can lead to other conditions such as bladder infections or obstruction which can lead to incontinence.

Can rectocele cause urinary incontinence?

A rectocele is a condition in which the rectum bulges into the vagina, which can put pressure on the bladder and cause urinary incontinence. In some cases, women with rectocele may also experience difficulty with bowel movements, which can also contribute to incontinence.

Does uterine prolapse cause urinary incontinence?

Uterine prolapse is a condition in which the uterus slips down into the vaginal canal and can put pressure on the bladder. This pressure can cause urinary incontinence, especially in women who have weak pelvic floor muscles.

What age does urinary incontinence start?

Urinary incontinence can occur at any age, but it is more common in older adults, particularly women after menopause. However, it can also occur in younger adults, especially women during pregnancy and after childbirth.

When does urinary incontinence start in pregnancy?

Urinary incontinence during pregnancy is common, especially during the third trimester when the uterus puts pressure on the bladder. Some women may also experience incontinence after giving birth, especially if they had a vaginal delivery.

Can an enlarged prostate cause urinary incontinence?

An enlarged prostate can cause urinary incontinence in men. This is because the enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can make it difficult for the bladder to completely empty. In some cases, urinary incontinence may also be a symptom of prostate cancer. If you are experiencing incontinence and have an enlarged prostate, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment options.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to suit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant fits your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your specific requirements
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard and delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about treatment for urinary incontinence, book your appointment online or call a member of our team directly today.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in February 2023. Next review due February 2026.

  1. Urinary incontinence, NHS
  2. Urinary Incontinence, Urology Care Foundation
  3. Urinary incontinence: What you need to know, Medical News Today
  4. Urinary Incontinence, Cleveland Clinic
  5. Urinary incontinence, Mayo Clinic
  6. Why Am I Experiencing Urinary Incontinence?, Healthline
  7. Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults, NIH

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