What is Urge Urinary Incontinence, Causes & Treatment

In a previous article of this blog, we explained you the types of urinary incontinence, and today we will focus on the Urge Urinary Incontinence. We will describe it, talk about the causes and how to treat it.

Definition & Causes

Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI) is when you feel a sudden urge to void and experience involuntary urine leakage before you can get to the toilet.

It differs from stress urinary incontinence which is leakage when there is increased pressure on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping, or running.

Mixed incontinence is when a person experiences both stress and urge urinary incontinence.

With UUI you may have frequent urination or frequent nighttime urination. You may not be able to get to the toilet without leaking. Some things such as hearing running water or putting the key in the door may trigger the urge and lead to urine loss. You may have abnormal bladder contractions or an overactive detrusor muscle which is the muscle that surrounds the bladder.

Urge Urinary Incontinence may be caused by bladder irritation, infections, nerve damage, cardiovascular problems, or certain diseases such as Diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s, or Multiple Sclerosis.

Treatment for Urge Urinary Incontinence

UUI can be treated but we recommend that you see your physician and make sure your leakage is not being caused by a more serious cardiovascular, infectious, or neurological cause.

Treatment for UUI may involve surgery, medication, weight loss, or physical therapy. Therapy may involve behavioral modifications such as bladder retraining, timed voiding, urge control techniques, and changing the types and amounts of liquids that you drink. Caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, certain foods, and nicotine are bladder irritants and can worsen your urge.  You may also have weak pelvic floor muscles. The same treatment used for stress incontinence to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can be used for urge incontinence. Pelvic floor muscle contractions also known as kegel exercises are important for improving your pelvic floor muscle strength to avoid incontinence. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and neuromuscular electrical stimulation have been shown to help with UUI.

A biofeedback device such as the Kehel may help with improving your pelvic floor muscle strength and decreasing your episodes of UUI. If using the Kehel follow the instructions for strengthening as noted in the article about how to treat urinary incontinency using Kegel exercises.


Lola Rosenbaum

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Elizabeth Bell

Clinical Specialist in Women’s Health

Do you have any questions about the Urge Urinary Incontinence? Have you suffered it? Leave us you questions below and we will help you!

Help other women that may suffer urge urinary incontinence by sharing this article 🙂

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