What Causes Incontinence?

Causes of Incontinence – The 5 Big Ones You Need to Know

There are many causes of incontinence, and understand them can help you know the best way to manage it.

Urinary incontinence is one of the most common conditions in America, but unfortunately, many people don’t understand what causes it.

The biggest misconception about incontinence is that it’s an illness or disease; that’s not the case. It’s most often  the result of another medical issue. Understanding these issues are the key to understanding the different causes of incontinence. 


Weakened Muscles

One of the biggest causes of incontinence, particularly stress incontinence,  is the weakening of the pelvic and sphincter muscles. These are the muscles that work together to control the flow of urine from the body. The sphincter is a thin band of muscle fibers that surround the urethra. It contracts and relaxes to open and close the urethra. The pelvic muscles provide support to the bladder.  

Weakened muscles can be one of the causes of incontinence.If the sphincter or pelvic muscles become weak, then they may struggle to keep the urethra closed when force is introduced (such as a cough or a sneeze). The result could be an unexpected loss of urine. The severity of leakage can range from a few minor drops to higher flows that are more frequent.

There are many things that can cause the pelvic and sphincter muscles to weaken. One is simply age. The sphincter may weaken over time, making it harder to contain urine. Childbirth and menopause can also weaken the sphincter muscle, both of which are factors in why incontinence in women is more common than in men.  


Cognitive Disorders

Cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, could also be one of the causes of incontinence. Under normal conditions, the bladder sends a signal to the brain when it needsCognitive thinking disorders can be one of the causes of incontinence. to be emptied. We receive this signal and interpret it to mean that it’s time to find a bathroom. For people with a cognitive disorder, this may not happen.

Cognitive thinking disorders can cause individuals to have trouble interpreting signals that the bladder sends. This could result in the release of urine in locations other than the bathroom. 


Nerve Conditions

If the nervous system sends unexpected signals to the bladder, this could also lead to incontinence. The bladder releases urine when it receives a signal from the brain to contract, Most people have regular control over when this occurs. But there are cases when the nerves send unexpected signals to the bladder and this is when incontinence is experienced.

When unexpected nerve signals tell the bladder to contract (or the sphincter to relax), then it allows for urine to exit the body. This could happen even if the person is not in the bathroom. A common form of incontinence related to nerve conditions is urge incontinence


Difficulty Moving (Functional Incontinence)

Mobility issues can be one of the causes of incontinenceFunctional incontinence occurs when an individual has difficulty reaching a bathroom to do limitations in mobility. The nervous and urinary systems may be healthy and functional, but the challenge is getting to a bathroom in time.

If an individual can’t physically get to a bathroom before they need to go, then they will often need to use an incontinence product as an alternative. There are many situations in which this may occur. Medical situations that require confinement to a bed may make using the restroom extremely difficult. For others, movement may be very painful and challenging, so getting to a bathroom quickly is not possible. Incontinence products are a perfect way to control for  these mobility-related situations.



Some medications can cause an increased need to urinate, which can lead to issues with incontinence. Diuretics, for example, are designed to flush water from the body. This often leads to an increased need to urinate. Antidepressants are also sometimes connected to incontinence. They can make it difficult for the bladder to contract, which means that urine has a greater chance of leaking.

Understanding the causes of incontinence is an important step on the path to not letting it get in the way of your life. The next step is understanding how to choose the right product. With knowledge about the condition and the products, you’ll be in a great position to experience success both in management of your incontinence as well as helping others to do the same.


If you’re experiencing incontinence, talk with your doctor, and then talk to us. Your doctor will provide you with a treatment plan, and we can provide you with supplies to get you back to what you love doing. Contact us at 866-343-4689 to learn more.  


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