Adult Incontinence in Women and Men

There are a host of possible causes when it comes to adult incontinence, which range from illness to genetics. While urinating may seem like a simple act, there are actually many muscles and nerves tied into the brain that must all coordinate and work properly for a person to empty their bladder. However, some types of incontinence are more common in one gender than the other, while other types of incontinence are more common as a person ages. Here is an overview of adult incontinence and brief explanations as to why it occurs as it does.

In women a weak or malfunctioning urinary sphincter brings about many incontinence problems. A sphincter is a muscle that tenses to hold urine in place and relaxes to release the flow of urine. When the sphincter muscle becomes weak, it has trouble holding the flow of urine back, and this failure results in adult incontinence. This type of incontinence is known as stress incontinence, and it is most often brought on by pregnancy and childbirth in women. When a woman undergoes multiple pregnancies, the sphincter is more and more likely to become overly weakened causing the bladder and the uterus to prolapse, or drop.

In its mildest state stress incontinence is just a little annoying, and in more severe cases a pessary may be used to support the organs, or surgery may be indicated to tighten the the sphincter muscle. Drugs are also an option, and a woman’s physician can help determine the proper course of treatment depending on the condition of her muscles and organs.

In men adult incontinence is most typically a result of a prostate gland that has become overly enlarged. In its enlarged state, the gland blocks the outflow of urine from the bladder. The prostate hugs the urethra, so when it becomes enlarged it essentially pinches off the flow of urine as it tries to leave the body. As urine builds up in the bladder is stretches and becomes dilated, and the kidneys continue sending urine to the bladder even when it cannot possible hold another drop. With the bladder stretched to capacity and the kidneys continuing to produce urine, the bladder literally overflows and constantly dribbles urine. This type of incontinence, not surprisingly, is known as overflow incontinence.

The other problem that a man can have with adult incontinence is when the prostate is removed and the nerve endings that control the sphincter muscle are damaged in the process. Any type of radiation treatment for a malignancy in the gland can cause this type of damage.

While there are certainly many different types of incontinence that occur in adult women and men, these two types of incontinence are by far the most common. Stress incontinence affects women, largely due to the effects of bearing children, and overflow incontinence affects man, largely as a result of an enlarged prostate gland. As with any type of incontinence, both women and men should consult their physician to determine the cause and best treatment for adult incontinence when they are experiencing any type of urinary leakage.

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