Incontinence can be embarrassing, but the good news is that it’s a common problem that’s very treatable. It’s important to talk to your provider if you have incontinence because it may be a symptom of an underlying health problem. At Main Line Health, you can trust us to get to the root of the problem and offer the optimal treatment for you.

What is incontinence?

Urinary incontinence may be experienced by both men and women, but occurs more commonly in women. Women often first notice changes in bladder function, including incontinence, during or after a pregnancy. Urinary incontinence symptoms may vary in terms of both symptoms and treatments. While many forms of incontinence are best treated surgically, other types may respond to more conservative treatments including medication, bladder retraining and pelvic floor exercise.

There are two main types:

  • Stress urinary incontinence: releasing a small amount of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise
  • Urge urinary incontinence: the urgent need to urinate occurs so suddenly that you might not make it to the bathroom in time

Possible causes of urinary and fecal incontinence can include:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (like Crohn’s disease)
  • Chronic constipation
  • Complications from a surgery, childbirth or menopause
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Obstruction in the bladder (like bladder stones or a tumor)
  • Bladder cancer

Who is at risk?

Incontinence is typically seen in older adults and is commonly seen in those who have:

Other risk factors include aging, being overweight and having a history of urinary tract issues or surgeries.

Diagnosis and testing for incontinence

Your provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform an exam of the pelvis, abdomen, rectum and genitals. You may need other tests to figure out what’s causing your incontinence, including:

  • Urinalysis: A sample of your urine is checked for signs of infection, traces of blood or other abnormalities.
  • Bladder diary: You record how much you drink, when you urinate, the amount of urine you produce and the number of incontinence episodes you have over a period of several days.
  • Postvoid residual measurement: You're asked to urinate (void) into a container that measures urine output. Your provider checks the amount of leftover urine in your bladder using a catheter or ultrasound test, which tells them that you may have an obstruction in your urinary tract or a problem with your bladder nerves or muscles.
  • Magneticresonance imaging (MRI): Imaging displays your pelvic organs for your provider to observe and evaluate.

After one or more of these tests, your provider can determine the underlying cause of your urinary incontinence and then make a treatment plan that is right for you.

Incontinence treatments

For minor cases, incontinence treatment can be as simple as making dietary adjustments, but more severe situations may require medication or one of the following:



Our skilled urologists offer comprehensive, compassionate treatment and personalized solutions for urological conditions.

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