All urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) is not the same. There are 3 main types of urinary incontinence:

1. Stress incontinence

What is it?

With this type of incontinence, urine leaks when there is sudden pressure on the bladder (for example, when a person laughs, coughs, sneezes, or exercises).

What causes it?

Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic and bladder muscles become weaker. For women, this can occur after childbirth, menopause, or surgery. For men, this may happen after surgery, such as prostate surgery.

How is it treated?

Stress incontinence can be treated with behaviour therapies, devices, or surgery. Absorbent products such as Depend can be used to discreetly protect clothing against leakage.

  • Behaviour therapies include pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises; controlling the amount, type and timing of fluids you drink; and bladder training by scheduling trips to the toilet that gradually become less frequent.
  • Devices are used to physically block urine from leaking. These include pessaries, which are placed by a doctor around the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body), and urethral inserts, which are small pads inserted into the urethra.
  • Surgery is used to help the bladder sphincter (the muscular ring around the base of the bladder that stops urine from leaking) to close more effectively or to support the bladder.
  • Absorbent products such as Depend provide leakage protection to give you peace of mind during your daily routine. There are a wide variety of absorbent products available to fit your needs and lifestyle.

2. Urge incontinence

What is it?

With this type of incontinence, a person's body doesn't give enough warning that it is time to urinate (pee). A person with urge incontinence may feel a sudden urge to urinate and may leak urine if they don't get to the toilet in time. They may also feel like urinating more often than they did before.

What causes it?

Urge incontinence is often caused by conditions that irritate the bladder or damage the nerves around the bladder, such as bladder infections, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

How is it treated?

Urge incontinence is usually treated with behaviour therapies (see "stress incontinence" for details) and/or medications. Surgery may also be used in some cases. Absorbent products such as Depend offer a discreet and convenient way to guard against urine leaks. This can help give you confidence to continue doing the things you enjoy. There are many different sizes and absorbencies available to fit your needs.

3. Overflow incontinence

What is it?

People with this type of incontinence dribble urine because they are unable to fully empty their bladders.

What causes it?

Overflow incontinence occurs when something blocks the flow of urine from the bladder, such as a tumour or an enlarged prostate, or when the bladder nerves are damaged because of diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or injury. It can also be caused by certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, sleep aids, or medications for overactive bladder.

How is it treated?

Some people may need to use a catheter (a thin tube inserted into the urethra) to drain their bladder, as instructed by their doctor. When overflow incontinence is related to a medication, the doctor or pharmacist may recommend stopping the medication. When overflow incontinence is due to a blockage, surgery may be used to remove the blockage. Absorbent products such as Depend can provide discreet protection against leaks so you don't need to worry about having an accident. These products come in many shapes and sizes to suit your lifestyle.

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