When we perceive something as embarrassing, it seems like it only happens to us at the moment. When in reality, you know for a fact that you are absolutely NOT the only human on earth to slip and fall in front of a room of people or have untimely gas. We’ve all been there, but when we’re uncomfortable in the moment, it’s easy to forget that others have their own “embarrassing” moments or things they’re ashamed to share with the world. However, those insecurities and experiences are what make us human. Mushy, motivational talk aside, there is comfort in knowing you’re not alone, which is why talking about what bothers us is so important. Sharing experiences helps to normalize the stigmas and opinions surrounding them. Of course, this is easier said than done, no matter how common the problem is. People are hesitant to talk about their morning breath, let alone something as personal as light bladder leaks! But just like bad breath or erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence is probably a more common issue than you might think.
What Are the Different Kinds of Urinary Incontinence?
You read that right. There are actually several kinds of urinary incontinence that may be causing your light bladder leaks. These variations of incontinence include:
Stress – Stress incontinence is the loss of urine during an activity that causes pressure or “stress” to be placed upon the bladder, abdomen, or urinary tract. Leaks with stress incontinence can be triggered by coughing, sneezing, running, laughing, etc. SUI is almost always tied back to a weakened pelvic floor, which is common in older people, and women who have given birth vaginally.
Overflow – With Overflow incontinence, a leak is triggered because the bladder is unable to empty itself completely. Because the bladder is never fully emptied, residual urine buildup causes it to fill up more quickly. People that experience overflow incontinence often find it hard to start going, keep a steady stream, and find it difficult to cut off urine when done, resulting in a dribble. This kind of incontinence occurs because the bladder is unable to contract correctly either due to nerve or muscle damage or an obstruction in the urinary tract.
Urge (OAB) – Urge incontinence is also known as Overactive Bladder or OAB. Just as the name implies, leaks occur with this kind of incontinence due to an overwhelming urge to go. This is due to the muscles that control the bladder involuntarily contracting, even when the amount of urine in the bladder is low.
Functional – Functional incontinence occurs because the person either does not comprehend that they have to go, or they are physically unable to do so. This is commonly seen among the elderly, or those diagnosed with a mental or physical disability.
Mixed – Sometimes the leaks can be caused by two different kinds of urinary incontinence. The most common combination is SUI and OAB seen in women.
Which is the Most Common?
If you’re experiencing one or more of these kinds of incontinence symptoms, you might feel isolated and embarrassed, but you’re certainly not alone. The data on urinary incontinence has yet to be perfected, as it relies on patient information, and research has shown that around half of all people that are experiencing urinary incontinence don’t talk about it with their healthcare provider. That being said, while both men and women can develop urinary incontinence, it is much more likely to happen to women, and that number rises as we age. It is estimated that around 1 in 4 women ages 18 and up have urinary incontinence to some degree. According to Aurora Healthcare, “Women age 20 to 39, up to 37 percent report some degree of UI. Among women older than 60, up to 39 percent report daily UI.” Some studies have even cited that “More than 4 in 10 women 65 and older have urinary incontinence.”
These statistics demonstrate the impact of the general term “urinary incontinence” but which type is actually the most common? According to a 2013 report, mixed incontinence (the combination of stress and urge) takes the bag. The report cites several studies that show nearly half of all women that reported incontinence symptoms experienced mixed incontinence symptoms. In the same report, the prevalence of mixed incontinence appeared to be higher than OAB or SUI as well. “Confirming American findings…, observed the overall prevalence of MUI in women was 14.5%, with 57% reporting severe MUI incontinence compared with 36% and 37% of women with stress (SUI)- or urge (UUI)-only urinary incontinence.”
If you’re experiencing light bladder leaks, talk to your doctor! While it’s an uncomfortable and often embarrassing topic, more information and data collected means more solutions in the future!
For women experiencing light bladder leaks as a result of SUI, Revive® is an easy, over-the-counter, reusable bladder support device designed to work from the inside out to prevent leaks. Made with soft, safe, and comfortable silicone, Revive can be worn for up to 12 hours a day! Find yours at a retailer near you.