Urinary incontinence occurs when the muscle (sphincter) that holds your bladder’s outlet closed is not strong enough to hold back the urine. This may happen if the sphincter is too weak, if the bladder muscles contract too strongly, or if the bladder is overfull.
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscle (sphincter) surrounding the urethra opens at an inappropriate time. This can happen when you laugh, sneeze, cough, lift something, or change posture. Stress incontinence can be caused by surgery to treat an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer, or removal of the prostate. For more information, see the topics Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or Prostate Cancer.
Urge incontinence is caused by bladder contractions that are too strong to be stopped by the sphincter. Often the urge is a response to something that makes you anticipate urination, such as waiting to use a toilet, unlocking the door when returning home, or even turning on a faucet. The bladder contractions can be caused by many conditions, including:
Urinary tract infection.
Bowel problems, such as constipation.