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Incontinence FAQs (cont.)

What causes incontinence?

Several factors contribute to incontinence. Many causes can be treated, thus eliminating symptoms of incontinence. Some causes are gender-specific, meaning that they occur in males or females exclusively. Among the known causes and contributing factors for incontinence are the following:

  • Urinary tract infection


  • Medication side effects


  • Impacted stool


  • Muscle weakness in the bladder and surrounding areas


  • Enlarged prostate or prostate surgery in men


  • Diabetes


  • Spinal cord injury


  • Disabilities or impaired mobility


  • Neurological disease (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease)


  • Pelvic surgery, such as a hysterectomy in women


  • Radiation therapy to the pelvis for cancer


  • Pregnancy


  • Childbirth (risk factors include vaginal delivery, long labor, and large babies)


  • Menopause


  • Prolapsed bladder in women (in which a portion of the bladder descends into the vagina)


  • Bladder disease such as bladder cancer


  • Fistula (abnormal connection between the bladder and ureters)

Difficulties with toilet training in childhood have nothing to do with incontinence occurring later in life. Having an incontinent parent does not automatically mean a person will suffer with incontinence later in life.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Incontinence, Urinary: Nonsurgical Therapies »

Urinary incontinence is defined by the International Continence Society as the involuntary loss of urine that represents a hygienic or social problem to the individual.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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