Incontinence is more common than you think

Incontinence, or losing control of your bladder or bowels, is a common problem. While it can be embarrassing, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have incontinence because it’s often a symptom of another health problem. Having an open and honest talk with your doctor can help get to the underlying cause of incontinence and find the right treatment.

Learn more about urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence means losing control over your bladder. There are two main types:

  • Stress urinary incontinence means releasing a small amount of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise.
  • Urge urinary incontinence means that the need to urinate hits you suddenly and urgently, to the point where you might not make it to the bathroom in time.

Urinary incontinence can have many causes, such as:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Constipation
  • Obstruction in the bladder from a tumor or bladder stones
  • Bladder cancer

Women commonly experience some urinary incontinence after childbirth or menopause. This can be reduced through a variety of treatments.

Learn more about fecal incontinence

Losing control over the bowels is called fecal incontinence. You may experience this type of incontinence as not being able to control when you pass gas or not being able to hold a bowel movement. Common causes of fecal incontinence include:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, like Crohn’s disease, that affect your bowel habits
  • Chronic constipation
  • Complications from a surgery, such as removal of a colorectal tumor

In women, fecal incontinence can result from childbirth.

Finding the root cause of incontinence

Problems with the nerves that control the bladder and bowels can also cause incontinence. This might be related to:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spine tumor
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

In any case, you won’t know what’s causing your incontinence until you talk to a doctor. He or she will ask you questions about your symptoms, and you may also need a physical exam. You may need other tests to figure out what’s causing your incontinence and find the right treatment for you.

Helping you get back in control

For many causes of incontinence, treatment can be as simple as changing your diet and exercise habits. In some cases, talking to your doctor about incontinence can help diagnose a more serious health problem that needs treatment.

Patient browsing clinical trials

VESICAL Clinical Trial

Marc Toglia, MD, and his team at Urogynecology Associates of Philadelphia and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery are enrolling patients in the VESICAL Clinical Trial for women suffering from Stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.