Mixed Incontinence in Women

There are several forms of incontinence. In urge incontinence — also called overactive bladder — the woman experiences loss of urine that is associated with a sudden, strong desire to urinate that can't be postponed. In stress incontinence, increased pressure in the abdomen momentarily puts physical stress on the pelvis, resulting in urine loss. Activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise, and even standing up can cause leakage in women with stress incontinence.

It's common for women to experience symptoms of both urge and stress incontinence. This condition is called mixed incontinence.

Women with mixed incontinence experience symptoms of both urge incontinence and stress incontinence. Usually, one type is more bothersome than the other. For example, a woman may mostly suffer from stress incontinence and only rarely be unable to reach the toilet in time.

Symptoms of urge incontinence include:

  • Loss of urine associated with sudden, strong urge to urinate

Symptoms of stress incontinence include:

  • Leakage of urine when performing activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise

If you have incontinence, keeping a urinary diary — a record of your daily urination, urine accidents and fluid intake — can help us make the proper diagnosis and decide on the appropriate treatment.

At your first visit to UCSF, your provider will ask questions about your general health, your history of incontinence, past surgeries, illnesses and medications you are taking. The provider will also perform a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. In addition, a urine sample will be tested. If your problem is complex, additional tests may be done at a later visit.

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Treatment for mixed incontinence can include combinations of therapies prescribed for either stress or urge related incontinence. These treatments are described below.

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments are simple, self-directed, have no side effects and are often used in conjunction with other treatment options. They have proven effective for many women and work well for certain types of incontinence. They include:

  • Bladder Training — The goals of bladder training are to increase the intervals between emptying your bladder and the amount of fluid your bladder can hold. This training can help diminish the sense of urgency and leakage.

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Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.