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Bladder Control Problems (Urinary Incontinence)

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Definition & Facts

Bladder control problems affect the way a person holds or releases urine. A person has urinary incontinence (UI) when urine leaks accidentally. Talk with a health care professional about bladder control problems right away.

pregnant woman with a watering can

Symptoms & Causes

You may have a bladder control problem if you often feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom or if you leak urine during normal activities. See a health care professional if you have any bladder problems.


Health care professionals use medical history and a physical exam to help find the cause of bladder control problems. Even if you feel embarrassed, it’s important to talk with your health care professional.


Childbirth, menopause, aging, and other health factors can cause or contribute to a woman’s bladder control problems. Aging and prostate problems may cause urinary incontinence in men. Treatment depends on the type of urinary incontinence you have.


You can’t always prevent bladder control problems, but good habits—such as eating right, drinking enough fluids, and keeping a healthy weight—may help keep your bladder as healthy as possible.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

The Urinary Tract & How It Works

The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing urine, which is composed of wastes and extra fluid. In order for normal urination to occur, all body parts in the urinary tract need to work together in the correct order.

Last Reviewed July 2021

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Joseph A. Costa, D.O., University of Florida Health, Jacksonville, and Behzad Jazayeri, M.D., University of Florida, Jacksonville College of Medicine