Types of Urinary Incontinence

At incontinence 101 we are focused on helping anyone experiencing incontinence by educating and providing solutions.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are six types of loss of bladder or bowel control. Each type has a varying types of symptoms and common causes. They range from light to heavy and also can be just a few drops of urine to full loss of bowel/bladder. They are listed below from lightest to the heaviest types of incontinence.


Symptoms can include leakage when coughing, sneezing, exercising, or laughing. This could include involuntary loss of a few drops. A very common side effect is anxiety and emotional/physical strains in our day-to-day lives.

Common causes could include strenuous physical activities or loss of muscle tone. Also pregnancy or childbirth, pelvic surgery or trauma, and enlarged prostates are causes people experience.


Symptoms can include an overactive bladder, rushing to the bathroom or the awareness that you need to go to the bathroom. Also a frequent very strong urge to go to the bathroom however you cannot make it to the bathroom.

Bladder irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks are some common causes. Medications, urinary tract infections, cancer, and any changes in hormonal balance in women. Nerve dysfunction associated with trauma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and Alzheimer’s are also common causes.


Symptoms can be a combination of two or more types, such as stress and urge incontinence. Intentionally urinating frequently in order to prevent stress related leakage can sometimes actually shrink the bladder which limits its ability to hold more urine.

Mixed incontinence is caused when symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence are present.


The symptoms associated with reflex incontinence include urine loss with no warning and not being able to tell when you need to urinate.

The most common causes are due to having a stroke, brain tumors and spinal cord injuries.


Symptoms include having a full bladder and it feels like it’s never empty. Often times there will be a constant dribble of urine. Frequency and urgency of urinate can increase.

Overflow incontinence can be caused by a bladder injury or pelvic surgeries. Nerve damage from diabetes, the narrowing of the urethra and medications can also be causes.


The symptoms related to functional incontinence are when the urinary system may work well, but factors outside the urinary tract, such as immobility or cognitive impairment, can prevent a person from getting to a bathroom in time.

Common causes include physical and mental disabilities, such as immobility or cognitive impairments. Also environmental barriers, such as stairs, clothing, or wheelchair accessibility.




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10 Responses

  1. Holly Knudson says:

    Urinary incontinence is a very inconvenient problem to have. I didn’t know there were so many types. My 92-year old mother suffers from it, which I guess is to be expected at that age. However, my 33-year old daughter also has it, and it has greatly affected her quality of life. Thank for the education on urinary incontinence. I’m feeling very blessed to not have it!

    • Chris says:

      Holly thanks for sharing your story, I really appreciate it.  It certainly can affect a person’s everyday life, however there are so many things people can do to make it a little easier on them.  

  2. tim says:

    What a debilitating condition to deal with.  Physically this pretty rotten by I have to think that psychologically it’s probably worse.  The fear and social paralysis has to be incredible.  It certainly helps that are resources such as your site to have a platform to learn, discuss, and share experiences.  Thanks for posting such valuable information…I’m sure there are quite a few people who suffer silently with this challenge.

    • Chris says:

      HI Tim thanks for feedback, I think there are more people than we think that suffer in silence from this everyday.  I hope I can continue to provide valuable information, thanks again.

  3. Shannon says:

    This is such a touchy topic that a lot of people have but don’t like to talk about it.  I’m glad there’s someone writing about solutions and treatments so that people can find help.  After I had a baby, I noticed that I could cough or sneeze like I used to without having a little leak now and then.  It can be really frustrating but good to know that there are options available.  🙂

    • Chris says:

      Hi Shannon thanks for sharing I know it can be a very personal subject.  Be on the look out I will be posting some more info on products and how this can affect women after having babies.  Once again I appreciate you sharing!

  4. Hendrik says:

    Wow I don’t know if that is an issue but I always loose a little bit in my pants. This is after I urinate. I just read that it can be related to caffeine or carbonated drinks. I drink a lot of coffee and I also drink a lot of sparkling water. I am 38 now and I never really thought it to be bad but it is sometimes a bit awkward when you drizzle in your undies. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Hendrik thanks for your comments.  I think post urinating dribble can be a common thing for men unfortunately.  However it could be related to an underlying medical issue so as always you should seek the help of a medical professional if you are truly worried.  Now caffeine can certainly affect people with incontinence.  Caffeine can irritate the bladder which can result in increased incontinence.

  5. Mary says:

    Regardless of the cause, I am sure this is a very embarrassing thing for many people, both male and female. If you start experiencing it, tell your doctor because you want to rule out serious causes, and in some cases there may be things that can be done to help the incontinence.

    My mother is 88 years old, age and several children have contributed to her incontinence, she wears protective pads that she changes regularly. Nobody knows because the pads control odour and they are designed to be unrecognizable. So that is a positive thing for people with incontinence.


    • Chris says:

      Hi Mary you are correct to the person it affects it truly does not matter the cause, they just want solutions.  I hope that we continue to spark conversation and it helps people.

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