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Department of Health and Human Serviceswww.hhs.gov
Agency for Healthcare Research Qualitywww.ahrq.gov

Taking Control: Non-surgical Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence in Women

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Why do I have UI?

UI happens because of problems with the muscles and nerves that help to hold or release your urine.

Stress incontinence can happen when the muscles under your pelvis that help control urination (called “pelvic floor muscles”) become weak, causing a loss of control of these muscles. Stress incontinence can also happen if the small ring of muscles that hold the bladder closed (called the “bladder sphincter”) becomes weak and allows urine to leak out.

Illustration of the female pelvic anatomy

Urgency incontinence can happen when the nerves that control the bladder muscles cause those muscles to spasm. It can also happen if the bladder muscles cannot relax enough to allow the bladder to expand to hold more urine.

Women who are more likely to have UI include women who:

  • Are pregnant or have had a baby
  • Are overweight
  • Have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove your uterus)
  • Are older

Some medicines can increase the chance of having UI. You may want to ask your doctor to review your medicines.

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