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What are the different types of incontinence?

A: Urinary incontinence affects 25 million adults in America, and 200 million adults worldwide. It’s important to remember that incontinence is not a disease in and of itself—it’s actually a symptom of one or more underlying causes. Understanding exactly which types of incontinence you may be experiencing can help ensure that you seek the right kind of treatment. Here’s a breakdown of the different incontinence types; we hope you’ll use this information as a conversation-starter with your doctor. Treatment (and freedom) could be just around the corner!rnrn rn

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  • Urge Incontinence: Also known as overactive bladder, urge incontinence happens when your brain sends mixed signals to the muscles that govern urination. You may feel a strong, sudden need to urinate even when your bladder isn’t full. This can result in leakage at unexpected or inconvenient times, such as when you are in public or while you’re asleep.
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  • Stress Incontinence is one of the most common types of incontinence, affecting millions women in the U.S., as well a percentage of men who undergo prostate surgery. When the muscles of the pelvic floor have been compromised, either by childbirth or surgery, any activity that exerts force on these muscles—laughing, heavy lifting or sneezing, for example—can cause unexpected leakage.
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  • Overflow Incontinence occurs when you are unable to empty your bladder completely during urination. As storage space in the bladder decreases, you may experience an overflow, which can lead to leakage. Overflow incontinence is more common in men, particularly those with an enlarged prostate; this can impede flow of urine through the urethra and slow emptying.
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  • Functional incontinence. Even when bladder functions are normal, those living with limited mobility may experience leakage simply because they can’t get to a restroom in time. Causes of functional incontinence may include full or partial paralysis, neurological or muscular issues and memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
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  • Fecal Incontinence, also referred to as loss of bowel control, affects about 17% of U.S. adults 65 and older who are still living at home. Fecal incontinence can be the result of muscle or nerve damage (caused by anything from childbirth to surgery to neurological disorders), constipation, diarrhea, bowel issues like IBS and rectal issues like prolapse.
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rn rnrnUntil you and your doctor determine which types of urinary incontinence you have and identify the right course of action, protective incontinence underwear can help ensure that you can face each day with confidence. Not sure which incontinence pads or garments are right for you? Take our interactive quiz now to find your perfect fit.

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