What are the causes of urine leakage and how to control it?

Many people see urine leakage as something embarrassing or a taboo subject. Urine leakage, however, is a completely normal problem that many people experience over the course of their life. In fact, 15% of men and 37% of women in Australia experience urinal leakage, also known as incontinence, at some stage in their life. In this blog post, we breakdown the causes of leakage and outline the effective methods that can treat it.

What is urine leakage?

Urine leakage is a form of incontinence and can range in severity. For example, one person may experience mild leakage when they laugh, whereas another individual may have major leakage and often have accidents. Leakage is the involuntary loss of urine from the body, it occurs when the muscle at the bladder neck is not strong enough to hold urine inside the bladder. Leakage can occur when bladder muscles contract too strongly, the bladder is not regularly emptied or the muscle at the bladder neck is too weak.

What causes urine leakage?

There are a number of things that can cause urine leakage, such as:

  • Childbirth
  • Prostate removal surgery
  • Infections (urinary tract infections, for example)
  • Medication
  • Ageing
  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord injury

What types of urine leakage are there?

1: Stress-caused

When stress or pressure is applied to the bladder, such as when you sneeze or lift something heavy and accidental urine occurs.

2: Urge-caused

The contraction of bladder muscles irregularly, giving the sensation of desperately needing to urinate, can cause some urine leakage.

3: Overflow-caused

When the bladder outflow is obstructed or the bladder muscles are too weak, leakage can occur.

How to control urine leakage?

Treatments can vary slightly between men and women.

For men, the most common way to control urine leakage is a procedure known as the male sling. The male sling is ideal for men with mild to moderate stress incontinence (when pressure is applied to the bladder such as coughing or laughing). The procedure involves a male sling being inserted beneath a man’s urethra, to give the bladder extra support. Only a small incision needs to be made into the urethra, so the procedure is usually performed as a short day procedure.

Once successfully positioned, the sling will cradle the urethra and prevent leakage when unexpected pressure is applied to the bladder. The exact placement of the sling will depend on the patient and will be positioned in an optimum way to decrease leakage.

For women, leakage is incredibly common after childbirth. Before they opt for surgical treatment, women can try to prevent leakage themselves by completing pelvic floor training. Pelvic floor training can help to manage urine leakage. A woman’s pelvic floor is a group of muscles that are attached to the pelvis. When these muscles contract, they provide support for the pelvic organs and urinary sphincter, helping to control urine leakage. Pelvic floor training is available at urology clinics and can also be practised at home through exercises such as pilates and yoga.

If a woman is experiencing more severe leakage and strengthening their pelvic floor is not giving them the results they want, suburethral sling surgery is a very popular treatment and has an 80-85% success rate.

A suburethral sling mimics the function of a pelvic floor and supports the urethra, helping to minimise stress related to urine leakage. There are multiple sling types available, and a urologist can advise you about which sling will be best suited for your needs. Like the male treatment, suburethral sling surgery is minimal and requires only a small incision, many people stay just 24 hours in the hospital when receiving the treatment.

If you experience any form of urine leakage, you should not feel embarrassed or scared to talk about it. Instead, you should contact Katelaris Urology as soon as possible and we can talk through your experiences and potential treatment options with you in detail. We are here to support you, so no matter what level of leakage you are experiencing, we can help.

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