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Speaking The Same Language: The Vocabulary Of Incontinence Terms To Know

There are many types and causes of incontinence. Knowing the right terminology will make you a smarter patient.

Bladder: The organ designed to both hold and void urine from the body

Bladder Control: Being able to control when you urinate

Bladder Diary: A journal for recording bathrooms visits, leakage and any other events to help your doctor reach the right diagnosis

Continence: Being able to control all elimination (both bladder and bowel)

External Sphincter Muscle: Voluntary muscle surrounding the urethra that opens and closes to hold urine in or void it

Incontinence: Unwanted or accidental loss of urine or stool

Internal Sphincter Muscle: Involuntary muscle located at the bladder opening

Neurogenic Bladder: Bladder affected by nerve damage

Nocturia: Having to wake up from sleep to urinate

Overactive Bladder: When the bladder is squeezing down too often, causing incontinence or a frequent urge to urinate

Overflow Incontinence: Involuntary urine loss due to an overfilled bladder

Pelvic Floor Muscles: Small muscle groups surrounding the urethra and rectum to support pelvic organs and maintain continence

Reflex Incontinence: Involuntary urine loss resulting from neuropathic bladder conditions—without warning or sensation

Stress Incontinence: Involuntary urine loss from physical pressure or stress like a sneeze or lifting heavy objects

Underactive Bladder: Bladder with extra large capacity that overfills, creating a loss of sensation; because it doesn't contract strongly enough, small amounts of urine dribble out

Ureters: Two hollow tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder

Urethra: The muscular tube that transports urine from the bladder out of the body when voiding

Urge Incontinence: Involuntary urine loss felt with a strong urge or desire to void

Urinary Incontinence: General term for involuntary urine loss