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Urge Urinary Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Syndrome

Updated: Mar 18

When it comes to bladder issues, no two stories are the same, but those who are controlled daily by the whims of their bladder agree that life changes drastically.

Do you regularly map out the bathrooms wherever you go? Are you prone to planning road trips around pit stops? Or, perhaps, you find it impossible to put off urges to go for 20-30 minutes. It probably feels like your bladder has hijacked your life!

A healthy relationship with your bladder is one where you're in control. So, who's running the show? If your answer is a resounding "my bladder," or even if you're second-guessing your answer, then keep reading! We are going to break down two common bladder issues: urge urinary incontinence and overactive bladder disorder.


What is UUI?

Urinary incontinence is any involuntary urine leakage. (Weber, 2001) We could separate it into several categories, but we're going to focus on a type called urge urinary incontinence (UUI).

If you’re suddenly hit with an intense need to rush to the bathroom, this sensation is called urgency. (Drake, 2018) With urge urinary incontinence—whether it is a small drop or a large amount—leakage is accompanied by this sensation of urgency.

Imagine that your bladder is a water balloon. If the water balloon doesn't close all the way, leaking will happen when you squeeze it.

The same thing happens with your bladder. The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the urine exit canal, also called the urethral canal, to close it off and prevent leakage. 

The bladder and pelvic floor muscles are designed to coordinate together. When the bladder squeezes to empty urine, the pelvic floor muscles should relax to let the urine pass. The opposite is also true: when the pelvic floor muscles squeeze, the bladder should relax and store urine. 

Who is affected by UUI?

Women are diagnosed with UUI two times more than men. (Buckley, 2010) Due to reproductive health events unique to women such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, the bladder, urethra, and other muscles that support these organs are affected. (womenshealth.gov, 2019)

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 4 in 10 women 65 and older have urinary incontinence. (Buckley, 2010)

Although older women are most impacted by urinary incontinence, urge urinary incontinence also affects younger women and some men as well.

How UUI can affect your life