Female urinary incontinence can be grouped in several distinct categories, although women often have symptoms found in more than one category (i.e., mixed incontinence).

Stress Incontinence:
Urine leakage occurs with increases in abdominal pressure (hence, mechanical “stress”).

Urge Incontinence:
Often referred to as “overactive bladder.” Inability to hold urine long enough to reach restroom.

Mixed Incontinence:
When two or more causes contribute to urinary incontinence. Often refers to the presence of both stress and urge incontinence. For example, someone has the combination of stress incontinence (leaking with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.) and urge incontinence (leaking along with a need to get to the bathroom), this is known as mixed urinary incontinence. Often, a woman may first experience one kind of leaking, and finds that the other begins to occur later.

Overflow Incontinence:
Leakage or “spill-over” of urine when the quantity of urine exceeds the bladder’s capacity to hold it. This generally happens when there is some blockage or obstruction to the bladder’s emptying; the bladder is unable to empty well, and small amounts of leakage happen frequently. This kind of leakage is less common among women, unless they have had bladder surgery, vaginal prolapse, or some less common condition.

Functional Incontinence:
Leakage (usually resulting from one or more causes) due to factors impairing your ability to reach the restroom in time because of physical conditions (e.g., arthritis). This may or may not represent a problem of the pelvic floor, but should certainly be addressed with a health-care provider.

Fistula or Diverticulum:
When urine collects in a pouch within the urethra, or flows directly through an abnormal tract into the vagina. They usually happen after some kind of surgery, trauma or radiation to the area and are relatively uncommon.

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