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Urinary Incontinence Care and Treatment

Why Choose Treatment for Urinary Incontinence at University of Colorado Hospital?

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The Urology and Urodynamics Clinic at University of Colorado Hospital is recognized nationally for its care. Our doctors have training in caring for a variety of urologic conditions, including incontinence.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Incontinence is the inability to control your bladder funcion. It can range from periodically leaking small amounts of urine, to not being able to hold any urine in your bladder.

Incontinence is most common among women and the elderly. It can be temporary or long-term.

Some of the more common causes of urinary incontinence include:

  • Cystocele (fallen bladder)
  • Urethral hypermobility
  • Post-hysterectomy incontinence
  • Neurological diseases
  • Urinary retention

Incontinence Types

Stress incontinence – urine is leaked during activities like laughing, sneezing, coughing or physical movement.


Urge incontinence – urine is involuntarily passed immediately after a sudden urge to urinate. This happens when muscles in the bladder wall contract uncontrolably.


Total incontinence – an abnormal passage forms between the bladder and vagina. This causes urine to leak continually.


Overflow incontinence – muslces prevent the bladder from emptying completely. This causes the bladder to overlfow and empty involuntarily.

Tests & Treatments

Tests for Urinary Incontinence


  • Bladder diary. Keeps track of your bladder function.
  • Urinalysis. Urine is tested for various compounds, like nitrates, blood, bacteria and crystallized minerals.
  • Blood test. Your blood is tested for other possible causes of incontinence.
  • Post-void residual (PVR). Measures the remaining amount of urine after urination.
  • Pelvic ultrasound. Produces electronic images of the pelvic organs.
  • Stress urinary incontinence test. Your doctor watches for urine leakage while you cough.
  • Cystogram. An X-ray of the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy. Examination of the inside of the bladder. A small tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the urethra and bladder.
  • Urodynamic testing. Studies urine flow and urine pressure in real time.


Treatments for Urinary Incontinence


  • Medication. A number of medications are used to treat different causes of urinary incontinence.
  • Artificial bladder. Doctors construct an artificial bladder and attach it to the abdominal wall and urethra.
  • Bladder training. Involves urinating at set times, or increasing the time between voidings to train your bladder to hold more urine.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises. Exercises that can strengthen muscles in the pelvic floor.
  • Urethral inserts. A thin tube is place inside the urethra to block urine from leaking out.
  • Fluid and diet management. Limiting certain foods and drinks can decrease incontinence. These include caffeine, alcohol and tea.
  • Pessary. A small device that fits into the vagina to help hold it up.
  • Artificial urinary sphincter. A balloon is placed around the urethra and inflated to close the urethra.
  • Bulking material injections. A material is injected around the urethra to close a hole or build up thickness of the wall of the urethra.
  • Sling procedure. A sling is placed around the urethra to lift it back into place; this reduces pressure on the urethra. The sling is attached to the abdominal wall.

Patient Education

Living With Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence can have a significant impact on your life and day-to-day activities. It can cause the need to wear protective garments. Often, you need to carry extra clothing with you. In some cases, people with urinary incontinence do not want to leave home.


There are many reasons for incontinence. An urologist with special training in incontinence can help identify the underlying cause. This leads to more effective treatment.


Additional Urinary Incontinence Resources

National Institutes of Health

Kidney, Bladder and Urinary Research

University of Colorado Hospital urologists participate in a variety of research activities. The research laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Research is conducted in a number of areas, including:

  • Pediatric urology
  • Voiding dysfunction
  • Urinary stone disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Urologic oncology
  • Minimally invasive approaches to urologic surgery