Female Incontinence

This information is useful for adults
Female Urinary Incontinence: Talk to Your Doctor
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our team of specialists work together to meet all of your care needs.
  • We help you understand your medical condition and explain all available treatment options.
  • Our researchers are actively researching new treatments of urinary incontinence.

Although many are reluctant to talk about it, urinary incontinence is a struggle for women of all ages, from all walks of life. Many women experience involuntary loss of urine as they get older, but urinary incontinence should not be considered a normal part of aging. 

There are effective treatments available that can help prevent unintentional urine loss. At Yale Medicine's Pelvic Medicine & Continence Center, our clinicians use the latest diagnostic tools to determine which treatment is appropriate for you. 

"Anyone who has had two babies and is 45 or older has likely had an experience with urinary incontinence," says Oz Harmanli, MD, chief of Yale Medicine Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine

"They may not be at a point where they need to seek help, but when they get into their 50s, it often becomes a more common problem. We have a 90-percent treatment success rate when urinary incontinence comes from physical exertion, or stress."

Female incontinence is the loss of bladder control in women. It is not uncommon to lose urine during pregnancy or with urinary tract infections temporarily. There are many reasons you might develop urinary incontinence as a chronic problem. The most common causes are pelvic floor trauma with childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy, obesity, cognitive impairment, chronic cough and constipation.

There are three types of female incontinence:

  • Urge incontinence: Women with urge incontinence feel the need to urinate frequently. They experience leakage of urine during times associated with this urge. 
  • Stress incontinence: Women with stress incontinence, also known as physical or exertion incontinence, may experience urine leakage, especially when coughing, laughing, exercising or sneezing.
  • Mixed incontinence: Many women experience a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.