Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of urine from the bladder and can affect approximately 30% of adult women and 3-11% of adult men. The most common types of UI are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is when you leak with increased pressure on the bladder, such as with a cough, laugh, sneeze, jump or heavy lifting. It normally happens because the muscles and tissues of the pelvis are not strong enough to manage extra pressure, from a cough for example. With this extra pressure, urine is forced past the muscles that keep the urethra (tube through which you void) closed. This can happen when the structures are weakened or damaged with having babies, chronic constipation, extra weight or simply getting older.
Urge incontinence is when you have a strong urge to void (pee) and you are unable to get to the bathroom in time. It happens because the bladder itself is overactive and is trying to squeeze out the urine before you are ready. Some people do not get a warning from the bladder before they leak and others are overwhelmed by the urge to void. Some people also talk about triggers for their urgency, such as hearing running water, going out into the cold, arriving home, or standing up from a chair or bed.