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Urinary Incontinence: Stress And Lifestyle Factors That Can Increase Your Risk

Urinary Incontinence: Stress And Lifestyle Factors That Can Increase Your Risk
Is Urinary Incontinence Common Among Men? Here Are 6 Tips To Manage The Symptoms

Urinary Incontinence is a common problem, and it is increasingly being seen in younger people now. Know why it happens and how you can control it.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : February 14, 2022 3:31 PM IST

Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control occurs when you are unable to control your urination. This is a common problem. Though people usually associate it with old age, it can happen to young people too. It can either be a minor issue or be so severe that it affects your daily routine. And, it is embarrassing too. Let's understand more about urinary incontinence and how your lifestyle can impact it.


Stress incontinence

This occurs when your urine leaks due to pressure on the bladder. The pressure could be because of coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting heavy weights.

Urge incontinence

This occurs when you have a sudden, unstoppable, intense urge to pass urine. This is followed by an uncontrollable loss of urine. Your urge to urinate may increase through the night. You may experience this kind of incontinence in diabetes, urinary tract infections, or any other neurological disorder.

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Overflow incontinence

You will notice you are constantly passing few drops of urine. Your bladder does not empty completely.

Functional incontinence

Although your urinary system is functioning properly, a physical or a mental impairment prevents you from peeing on time.

Mixed incontinence

You may encounter more than one type of incontinence. It is usually the stress incontinence and urge incontinence.


You are at a higher risk of developing urinary incontinence if:

  • You are a female who has recently gone through pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause.
  • You are old. With age, your muscles tend to weaken. Urinary muscles are no exception to that rule. This makes it harder for you to control your urge to pee.
  • You are a man with prostate issues.
  • You are a smoker.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You are obese.
  • You have chronic constipation.
  • You have a birth defect that causes a structural deformity in your urinary tract.


Certain foods, drinks, and medicines affect the way you pee or how much you pee. This is because these factors stimulate your bladder and increase the quantity of urine. These factors include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Sparkling water
  • Chilli peppers
  • Chocolates
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Foods that are high in sugar, spice, or acid e.g. citrus fruits
  • Medicines that are used to manage high blood pressure
  • Sedatives
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Large dose of vitamin C
  • Constipation
  • Infections
  • Smoking

The above factors may only cause temporary incontinence. There are certain factors that can cause persistent urinary incontinence. These include:


When you are pregnant, the constant pressure of the foetus on your bladder as well as the hormonal changes can cause stress incontinence.


Vaginal delivery can lead to weakening of the muscles that are required for bladder control. The constant pressure during labour damages the nerves and supportive tissue of the bladder resulting in a prolapsed pelvic floor. The prolapse adds more pressure on the bladder causing it to be pushed down the usual position along with the uterus, rectum, and small intestines. All these organs protrude into the vagina causing incontinence.


Your body undergoes multiple changes with age. Ageing of the bladder is part of this process. Your bladder muscles age with time and decrease your bladder's capacity to hold or store urine. Your bladder contracts involuntarily as you get older.


Menopause results in hormonal changes and bladder changes. The tissues lining the bladder become thin and cause incontinence.


Any kind of tumour or obstruction along your urinary tract can cause incontinence. Prostate enlargement in men can often cause stress or urge incontinence. Urinary stones can block the bladder opening and then result in urine leakage. Stress incontinence is one in which one would need to consult a urologist because he or she may need surgery for a cure and a better clinical outcome.


Urinary incontinence may require surgery or other medical treatment. But you can decrease your risk of developing this condition and preventing leakage of urine.

  • Maintain your ideal body weight that is healthy for you.
  • Practice kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and use of drugs
  • Increase fibre content in your diet to avoid constipation
  • Physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily is a must
  • Drink fluids at the right time. Avoid drinking just before bedtime
  • Urinate according to a schedule by training your bladder

(This article is authored by Dr Manohar Bhadrappa, Consultant Urology and Renal Transplant Surgeon, Manipal Hospital Sarjapur, Bengaluru)

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