Urinary incontinence affects more than 13 million Americans, 85 percent of which are women. It is more common than most chronic conditions, affecting 25 percent of reproductive-aged women and 50 percent of postmenopausal women.

A number of factors may contribute to incontinence, including:

  • Childbirth, when tissues, muscles and nerves supporting the urethra may be damaged
  • Obesity
  • Hysterectomy, which increases the risk of incontinence by 30 to 40 percent
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Illness such as diabetes, lung disease or stroke
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The most common types of incontinence are stress incontinence, urge incontinence (often called overactive bladder), or a combination of the two, called mixed incontinence.

Incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process, and there are a variety of treatments available. At UCSF, women with incontinence are treated at Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery clinics. A leader in the field, the program was recognized as an exceptional national model in 2004 with the first annual Continence Care Champion award from the National Association for Continence.

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