What causes bladder control problems?

Urinary continence is all about being able to control the storing and passing of urine. As bladder control relies on the complex coordination of many nerve pathways and muscles, there is potential for things to go wrong. When this control is lost, it can lead to incontinence. There are a number of common causes of bladder control problems, some leading to temporary types of urinary incontinence and others to a longer term issue. To learn more about the different types of incontinence mentioned below, visit our page about incontinence diagnosis.

CauseCommonly associated bladder control issue
Neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Spina Bifida or spinal cord injury can make people susceptible to many different types of bladder control problems, due to disturbed messages between their brain and bladder.All types of incontinence
Pregnancy and childbirth - e.g. damage during vaginal labour, or pressure on the bladder from the growing babyStress incontinence
Surgical damage - common during hysterectomy or prostate gland removal surgeriesStress incontinence, Overflow incontinence
Connective tissue disorders – such as Ehlers-Danlos syndromeStress incontinence
Some medications, particularly anti depressants, sedatives and diureticsAll types of incontinence
Poor fluid intake - either insufficient amounts, or drinking too much alcohol / caffeineUrge incontinence
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and other conditions affecting the bladder and urethra e.g. tumoursUrge incontinence
Bladder obstruction or blockage - e.g. from bladder stones or severe constipationOverflow incontinence, Urge incontinence
Incomplete emptying - sometimes due to spinal injury, other nerve damage or certain medicationsOverflow incontinence

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