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What are the Possible Causes of Urinary Incontinence?

What are the Possible Causes of Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence (UI) or poor bladder control is a condition that occurs when a loss of bladder control results in unintentional urine leakage. There are a lot of possible causes of urinary incontinence in men and women.

Some of the factors that might trigger this condition are underlying diseases or physical changes.

Although it can be treated, people who suffer from this condition may have a difficulty with their daily routine.

possible causes of urinary incontinence

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

The symptoms of this condition will depend on the type of urinary incontinence.

But just to make sure, if you have these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately to determine what condition you currently suffer from.

Symptoms of UI include:

  • Accidental urine leakage when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or when doing activities that require more effort.
  • A sudden and recurrent urge to urinate but only voids a little because the bladder is not yet full.
  • A feeling of not completely emptying the bladder.
  • Being unable to reach the toilet on time and wetting oneself often.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

The possible causes of urinary incontinence are the following:

Bladder irritants

Certain foods, drinks, and medications irritate the bladder, causing it to produce more urine than normal. These irritants are called diuretics, which help the kidneys expel more water and from the body in the form of urine.

Examples of diuretics include spicy and acidic foods, carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol, certain heart and blood pressure medications, sedatives, and high doses of vitamin C.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Infections in the urinary system like UTI can irritate the bladder that results in overactivity, which results in frequent urges to urinate.


Constipation is one of the common possible causes of UI.

When stool builds up in the rectum and colon, it can put pressure on the bladder, causing an inability to accumulate the enough urine and stimulating contractions when it is not supposed to.

Constipation can also cause the bladder to not empty well that can result in UI, UTI, and kidney damage.

Another factor in how constipation leads to UI is straining. Exerting too much effort while having bowel movements can weaken the pelvic floor, thus diminishing bladder control.

Constipation: All You Need to Know


Urinary incontinence is more common in women than men, since there are a lot of physical and hormonal changes women need to go through in their lifetime.

Pregnancy, as an example, is one of the known possible causes of urinary incontinence in women.

When the fetus in a pregnant woman’s womb grows, it puts more pressure on the woman’s pelvic floor muscles, bladder, and urethra, which can cause UI.

Hormonal changes can also affect a pregnant woman’s normal urine expulsion. High levels of progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) during pregnancy can trigger the kidneys to overwork, therefore triggering UI.


Women who gave birth vaginally can suffer from urinary incontinence than women who have undergone cesarean delivery.

Vaginal childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, a reason for the bladder’s overactivity.


Aside from pregnant women, women who are experiencing it have also high risks of having urinary incontinence. Changes in hormones such as a drop in estrogen level can result in the thinning and slowly deteriorating of the lining of the bladder and urethra that can set off UI.

Surgeries involving the urinary system

The damage inflicted on the urinary bladder during surgeries can lead to UI. Surgeries like hysterectomy— removal of the uterus, or prostatectomy— removal of the prostate can cause temporary or lasting UI.

Enlarged prostate gland or Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH, the most common possible causes of urinary incontinence in men, can create changes in a man’s urinary system.

An overactive bladder is a prominent change brought upon by BPH, which is usually associated with UI.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is a condition common in older men. Cancer in the prostate can weaken the surrounding organs in the urinary system, which can trigger UI.

However, UI can be seen as a usual complication of prostate cancer treatments like radical prostatectomy.

Tumors or blockage

Tumors in the urethra or bladder and kidney stones that obstructs the normal flow of urine leads to uncontrollable urine leakage.

Certain diseases and neurological disorders

Nerve damage due to diabetes and treatments for several types of cancer can set off UI. neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and multiple sclerosis, hinders a person’s ability to reach the restroom on time, resulting in frequently wetting themselves.

Complications of urinary incontinence

Untreated urinary incontinence can lead to certain complications like:

Recurring urinary tract infections

When you suffer from UI, it is much easier for bacteria to breed in the urinary system that can make you more susceptible to reappearing urinary tract infections.

Skin irritation

Frequently wetting yourself can cause rashes and sores on your skin, that when left untreated, can escalate to infection.

Difficulty in living a normal life

Urinary leakage can happen at any time, anywhere. That is why people who have this condition may have difficulty living their lives due to worries and fear of embarrassment.

Urinary incontinence can affect someone’s daily routine, work, education, and even relationships.

If you are currently going through urinary incontinence, or you know someone who does, seek, or offer help and let them know that there are people who can understand their condition.

Key takeaways

Even if urinary incontinence isn’t as critical as other diseases out there, it is still debilitating for people who have it.

Being aware of the possible causes of urinary incontinence can help you or the people you know to look for immediate treatments that can finally calm your/their anxiety.

Remember to seek medical advice without hesitation, if you have an idea of what’s been causing your UI.

Ask your doctor for treatments and medications that suit your condition and needs, so you can finally live your life without worries.

Learn more about Urological Health and Bladder Diseases, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Urinary Incontinence https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808 Accessed August 25, 2020

Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/urinary-incontinence-older-adults Accessed August 25, 2020

Overview: Urinary Incontinence https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/ Accessed August 25, 2020

Urinary Incontinence https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-incontinence Accessed August 25, 2020

What is Urinary Incontinence https://www.uclahealth.org/womens-pelvic-health/what-is-urinary-incontinence Accessed August 25, 2020


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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Jun 11
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.