Incontinence: A Woman's Little Secret
If you think urinary incontinence only affects older women, think again. Bladder control issues affect younger, active women, too -- are you one of them?
4 Types of Urinary Incontinence
When you can't control the release of your urine, you have urinary
incontinence. For some the problem can be as minor as the rare dribble, for
others as problematic as wetting your clothes. There are four kinds of these
plumbing problems, according to the Mayo Clinic:
that little leak that happens when you cough, laugh, sneeze -- any
motion that stresses or puts too much
pressure on the bladder.
Stress incontinence can result from pregnancy and childbirth, when pelvic muscles
and tissues can get stretched and damaged. It can also occur from high-impact
sports, as a result of aging, or from being overweight.
aka "overactive bladder," is a bit different - it's the
urgent need to go, followed by an involuntary loss of urine -- with anything
from a few seconds to a minute's warning. It is thought to be due to spasms of
the bladder muscles.
Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or a urinary
tract infection can cause urge incontinence.
means you have more than one type of incontinence, with stress and urge
incontinence being the typical mix.
"I think most women have both types," adds Brubaker. "I don't believe
there's as much distinction between the two types as we might think."
If you can't empty your bladder every time you go to the bathroom and
experience a frequent or constant dribbling of urine, you have overflow
Certain medications can cause this problem, and people with nerve damage from diabetes or men with prostate issues can also
experience this type of incontinence.
It is due to impaired bladder muscle contractions or bladder obstructions.
Incontinence a Big Problem for Young Women
Among teens and young women, incontinence problems are typically related to
sports injuries, says Pamela Moalli, MD, a professor of urogynecology at the
University of Pittsburgh Magee-Womens Research Institute. "About 20% of college
athletes report leakage of urine during sports activities," she tells
"Women in high-impact sports are at highest risk -- parachuters, gymnasts,
runners," says Moalli. "In these sports, you're hitting the ground hard, which
can damage pelvic muscles and connective tissue that support the bladder."