Types of Urinary Incontinence


There are different types of incontinence: Urge (also known as overactive bladder), stress and overflow. You may have only one type or you may have urge incontinence along with one of the other types (mixed incontinence). All people with incontinence have bladder control problems. But each type of incontinence has its own pattern of signs and symptoms. These are the typical patterns:


Urge Incontinence or Overactive Bladder

People with this type of incontinence may:

  • Lose urine as soon as they feel a strong need to go to the bathroom.
  • Wet themselves if they don't get to a bathroom immediately.
  • Get up frequently during the night to urinate.
  • Go to the bathroom at least every two hours.
  • Feel they have a weak bladder. Each drink of coffee, cola, or alcohol seems to cause urination out of proportion to the amount they actually drink.
  • Have to urinate every time they hear or touch running water.
  • Wet the bed at night.

Stress Incontinence

Stress Incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence. It is the body's inability to prevent accidental leakage when pressure is exerted on the abdomen. People with this type of incontinence may:

  • Leak urine when they cough, sneeze, or laugh.
  • Leak urine when they exercise
  • Go to the bathroom more frequently in order to avoid accidents.
  • Sleep through the night, but leak upon getting up from bed in the morning.
  • Sometimes leak urine when they get up from a chair.

Learn more about Stress Incontinence here.


Overflow Incontinence

People with overflow incontinence may:

  • Get up frequently during the night to urinate.
  • Take a long time to urinate and have a weak, dribbling stream with no force.
  • Dribble or drip urine after voiding.
  • Dribble urine throughout the day.
  • Urinate small amounts and not feel completely empty afterward.
  • Often feel as if they do not completely empty their bladder.

People with Mixed Incontinence have a combination of the above signs and symptoms.

Dr. Mary Mahern, MD
Dr. Clark Brittain, DO

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