Who is at Risk for Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the bladder—generally because of weak or absent urinary sphincter control. There are different types of urinary incontinence that can affect different groups differently, such as stress incontinence in which you may leak when sneezing or laughing. This is opposed to urge incontinence, where just a little urine makes you feel like you’ve really got to go. It’s also a fairly common issue, affecting more than 25 million North Americans—about 13 million of whom live in the US.

More Risk for Women

However, certain factors can make a person more or less likely to develop bladder control difficulties. Prostate gland issues can make urinary incontinence a problem for men, but women are more likely to suffer stress incontinence, largely due to the pressure of childbirth and pregnancy.

Menopause plays a role too, however, and the chances of urinary incontinence are greatly increased with age—the bladder muscles grow weaker along with all the other parts of the body. In fact, more than half of older populations requiring care have issues with urinary incontinence.

Obesity Raises Risk

Obesity may increase the chances of urinary incontinence as added weight puts additional pressure on the surrounding muscles. Diabetes on its own can cause issues, as well, and since obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, these two issues often interplay. Some neurological diseases may result in a type of urinary incontinence known as functional incontinence.