Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the term given to unintentional urine loss.

This urine loss may occur with different levels of severity and may have various different causes. Determining these causes is a prerequisite for successful treatment.

A distinction is generally drawn between the following forms of incontinence:

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is the name given to loss of urine during physical exertion. There are different degrees of severity depending on whether the urine loss occurs when coughing or sneezing, during strenuous exertion or merely when walking, climbing stairs, making simple movements or simply lying down.

The cause of this form of urine loss is a disorder or defect in the bladder closure system. A disorder of this kind may in turn have various causes, for example sphincter weakness, which may also be present in men following certain operations, or a change in the pelvic floor as a result of the aging process, accompanied by prolapse of the bladder and uterus.

Urge Incontinence

In the case of urge incontinence, urine loss is the result of hyperactivity of the bladder. This incontrollable bladder muscle activity leads to an urge to urinate and uncontrollable emptying of the bladder. The symptoms of urge incontinence may vary greatly in intensity and frequency.

There are many causes of bladder disorders that cause urge incontinence and these are often not easy to recognise. They range from irritations of the bladder due to inflammation, tumours or stones and prolapses of the pelvic floor in women to prostatic enlargement in men. Neurological disorders may also cause such symptoms.

Mixed Forms

Stress incontinence and urge incontinence may exist concomitantly. This combination, which is relatively frequent in women, requires precise differentiation and complex treatment.

Rare Forms

Reflex Incontinence

This particular form of loss of urine occurs as a result of specific neurological diseases.


Overflow Incontinence

This type of incontinence involves loss of urine that only occurs if emptying of the bladder is no longer possible as a result of an impediment.


Treatment of different types of incontinence varies as it is based on particular causes. Nevertheless, conservative treatment options are always the first approach to be taken, regardless of the particular type of incontinence. It is only when these prove ineffective that surgical procedures should be used.


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Academic teaching hospital of the RWTH technical university, Aachen

Clinic for Urology and Paediatric Urology

Dechant-Deckers-Str. 8
52249 Eschweiler

+49 2403 - 76-1861

St.-Antonius-Hospital gGmbH
Dechant-Deckers-Str. 8
52249 Eschweiler
tel.: 02403 76 - 0
fax: 02403 76 -1119

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