4 Most Common Types of Incontinence in Women – Boom Home Medical
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Types of Incontinence in Women

by Valerie Ulene 03 Apr 2024

Urinary incontinence is far more common than most people imagine. By some estimates, somewhere between 24 and 45 percent of women are impacted by it at some point in their lives.

But incontinence isn’t one size fits all. There are in fact several different types of urinary incontinence. Each of them has different causes and is treated slightly differently. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of incontinence women face.

4 Most Common Types of Incontinence

1. Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine triggered by activities that increase pressure inside the belly or abdomen, like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising. It develops when the muscles in the pelvis that support the bladder and urinary tract weaken.

Although stress urinary incontinence can happen to women at any age, it is far more common in older women. In fact, it’s estimated that as many 1 in 3 women 65 and older experience it.

This is, at least in part, due to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause. When women reach menopause, levels of sex hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, decline as the ovaries stop releasing eggs. The reproductive organs and urinary tract are strongly impacted by these hormonal changes, causing a wide range of symptoms including stress incontinence.

Women who have been pregnant, particularly those who delivered vaginally, are at increased risk for developing stress incontinence later in life. Stress incontinence is also extremely common in younger women during pregnancy and immediately following childbirth, a condition called postpartum incontinence.

2. Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence causes a sudden, urgent, and uncontrollable need to urinate that simply can’t be delayed. In fact, women with urge incontinence frequently leak urine before they’re able to get to a bathroom.

It’s thought that urge incontinence is related to the muscles that control bladder emptying. Instead of contracting only when the bladder is full, the muscles squeeze sporadically and without warning.

Overactive bladder syndrome, or OAB, has a lot in common with urge incontinence. Its symptoms are very similar and include sudden, intense urges to urinate as well as frequent urination, typically both during the daytime and at night. Interestingly, however, less than half of women with overactive bladder actually experience incontinence.

Because they are unpredictable, symptoms of urge incontinence and overactive bladder can be extremely challenging to navigate.

3. Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence is less common than other types of urinary incontinence, and it’s significantly less common in women than men. It occurs when the bladder is unable to empty completely, causing it to become overdistended and leak. Symptoms of overflow incontinence generally include: frequent or constant dribbling throughout the day, a feeling of fullness in the bladder even after voiding, a urine stream that starts and stops, and the need to strain in order to void.

A variety of things can contribute to overflow incontinence, medications being one of them. Certain medications affect the way the muscle responsible for squeezing and emptying the bladder works. Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for example relax the bladder and may cause it to retain urine.

Damage to the nerves that stimulate the bladder muscle can also lead to overfilling. Diabetes has the potential to cause this type of nerve damage, as do spinal cord injuries and neurologic diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Blockages that prevent the flow of urine into the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) and cause urine to back up in the bladder are another cause of overflow incontinence. In men, blockages are most commonly caused by an enlarged prostate while in women the major culprit tends to be prolapse of the uterus or bladder. (Prolapse occurs when the pelvic organs sag or droop.)

4. Mixed Incontinence

Some women have more than one type of incontinence. Women who have both stress and urge incontinence for example may leak urine when they exert themselves physically (a common symptom of stress incontinence) and experience sudden, intermittent urges to urinate (a common symptom of urge incontinence).

How to Manage Urinary Incontinence

No matter what type of incontinence you have, there are simple lifestyle modifications and behavioral changes that can help alleviate your symptoms.

Do pelvic floor exercises.

Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, called Kegel exercises, can improve bladder control and reduce leakage. Kegel exercises involve squeezing, holding, and then relaxing the pelvic muscles. Regularly performing Kegels strengthens the muscles that support the bladder and urethra and doing eight or 10 repetitions of them three or four times a day can go a long way in preventing bladder leakage.

Manage your fluid intake.

To control bladder leakage, manage the amount of fluid you drink and the way you consume it. Although it’s important to always drink enough to stay hydrated, avoid consuming an excessive amount of liquids. Drinking too much can cause overfilling of the bladder and trigger strong, sudden urges to urinate.

Also, try consuming smaller amounts of fluids slowly over the course of the day rather than large amounts all at once.

Schedule regular trips to the bathroom.

Going to the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day helps prevent your bladder from becoming too full and reduces the likelihood of leaks.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If your body mass index (BMI) is above the healthy range, do your best to lose weight, as it may improve your incontinence symptoms.

Recommended Products for Managing Incontinence

If you’re struggling with incontinence, you may feel overwhelmed by the countless products on the market to choose from. Fortunately, Boom Home Medical has created a line of products and solutions specifically with women in mind. Our beautifully designed products will fit perfectly into your life and home and eliminate the shame and embarrassment associated with traditional medical equipment.

Two of our products, the Loona and Boom Absorbent Underwear, are must haves if you suffer from incontinence.

Loona Portable Female Bedside Urinal

The Loona is the first of its kind, a beautifully designed portable urinal created specifically for female anatomy. Its discreet design makes it inconspicuous when traveling or if family and friends come to your home for a visit.

The Loona is the perfect portable urinal for women with urge incontinence or mixed incontinence who need to make frequent trips to the bathroom.

Loona has a soft contoured funnel that aligns with the natural curves of a woman's body, making it easy and comfortable to use. It also boasts a snap-close lid to keep liquid contained and an easy-to-hold handle that makes positioning it a snap.

Having a Loona on hand during the day cuts down on accidental bladder leaks and keeping one bedside provides a great solution for nighttime urges (and helps you get a better night’s sleep).

Boom Absorbent Underwear

For women who want to feel confident and feminine but still be reliably protected from leaks, Boom Absorbent Underwear is an ideal fit. Designed to be both stylish and comfortable, its three-layer construction provides all-day protection, ensuring you remain fresh, dry, and confident. The underwear's top layer efficiently wicks moisture away from your skin, the middle layer absorbs and locks in liquid in place, and the outer layer protects your clothes from embarrassing stains.

Made with a blend of nylon, spandex, polyester, and cotton, Boom Absorbent Underwear are breathable, soft, and perfect for everyday use. Reusable and easy to care for, they’re also convenient—simply wear, wash, and wear again—and eco-friendly (far better than disposable pads). Available in two stylish options, Classic and Lace, Boom's underwear offers a look suitable for every occasion. And they’re FSA- and HSA-eligible!

Key Takeaways

Urinary incontinence is more than just an unpleasant symptom; it takes a toll on every aspect of a person's life, from their physical health to their emotional well-being. Fortunately, there are lifestyle interventions and medical treatments that can help women living with incontinence find relief.

So, if you’re experiencing incontinence symptoms, consult with your healthcare provider for personal guidance and support. While it’s difficult to talk about these issues, having an open and honest conversation about them will allow your doctor to diagnose the type(s) of incontinence you’re experiencing and provide the tailored support you need to get better.

FAQs about Urinary Incontinence

How do I know which type of incontinence I have?

Certain types of incontinence, stress incontinence in particular, are fairly easy to identify. If, for example, you only have bladder leaks when you exert yourself or when you cough, sneeze or laugh, you likely have stress incontinence. Other types of incontinence however may be harder to differentiate from one another without consulting a medical professional. Sometimes special testing is necessary to determine precisely what’s going on; this type of evaluation is usually conducted by a urologist or obstetrician/gynecologist.

Can I use Boom Home Medical's Loona when I travel?

Yes! The Loona’s durable construction and leak-proof design make it great to take with you when you’re on-the-go. With its discreet and stylish design, Loona is so pretty that it’s unlikely anyone will know what it is.

Are Boom Home Medical's high-absorbency underwear reusable?

Reusable and easy to care for, Boom Absorbent Underwear are convenient—simply wear, wash, and wear again—and eco-friendly.

Can I use the Loona for different types of incontinence?

Regardless of the type of incontinence you’re faced with, the Loona is great to have on hand both at home and when you’re out and about. Whether you’re dealing with constant dribbles or unexpected, overwhelming urges, Loona provides a great solution.


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559095/
2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp201742

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