Common Causes of Incontinence in Women

A look at some of the most common causes of incontinence in women.
The common causes of incontinence in women are not all due to childbirth, despite popular belief. The following is a look at some of the most common causes of incontinence in women:
  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles: The bladder is supported and held in place by the pelvic floor muscles, and they are responsible for keeping the bladder closed. If these muscles are weakened or damaged, it can lead to leakage. Particularly stress incontinence, where laughing, sneezing, coughing, or other stress to the bladder can cause leaks. These muscles can, and often are weakened by childbirth, and this is the most common cause of incontinence. However, weakening can also occur as we age. Muscles often lose strength and flexibility, especially if not properly exercised. Doing regular Kegel exercises will help. 
  • Post-menopause: Many women will experience incontinence post menopause because the reduction in estrogen affects abdominal muscles, causing the bladder to shift, and making the muscles controlling it less effective. 
  • Smoking: Smoking can lead to stress incontinence caused by regular, violent coughing. 
  • Loss of mobility: If a woman has lost mobility, hindering her ability to reach a bathroom or react to signals from her body for elimination, it may lead to incontinence. 

  • Obesity: If a woman is overweight, the stress and pressure of too much weight on the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles may lead to leakage. 
  • Mental illness: A mental illness may leave a woman unable to recognize and respond to signals from her body.
  • Medical conditions: There are a number of medical conditions that affect the brain or nervous system, and cause incontinence. This is often due to damage to nerve passageways from the brain. The result being urinary or fecal incontinence. These conditions include, but are not limited to: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis. There is also a clear link between diabetes and incontinence. 
  • Prescription meds: Some prescription medications, such as diuretics, increase the likelihood for urine leakage. Changing medications, adjusting dosage, or stopping medication all together may be needed to stop the incontinence. 
  • UI Tract Infections: Many women experience frequent urinary infections, and this can lead to bladder hypersensitivity, causing leaks because the woman can’t reach the bathroom in time. Although, the leaks are often very small. 
  • Constipation: Regular constipation can stretch and weaken the muscles, intestine, and rectum, leading to fecal incontinence.

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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