Overflow Urinary Incontinence

What is overflow urinary incontinence?

One of three primary types of urinary incontinence alongside stress and urge incontinence, overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder is unable to empty properly. This can result in frequent leakage, or the release of only small amounts of urine despite straining. 38% of Australian women and 10% of Australian men are believed to experience urinary incontinence of some kind, and an average of four million Australians are more specifically believed to experience overflow urinary incontinence at some stage.

Overflow incontinence causes and risk factors

Overflow incontinence can strike anyone and, contrary to popular belief, it can happen at any age. In fact, of the 38% of women who report this problem, at least half are below the age of 50. This is because overflow incontinence can be pinned on a wide range of causes and factors, many of which have nothing to do with age (though individuals over 80 years old are at increased risk), but actually come down to variables including –

  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Injury to the nerves surrounding the bladder
  • Medications affecting nerve signals to the bladder
  • Urethra blockages
  • And more

Risk factors that make this condition more likely also include –

  • Overactive bladder or pelvic floor muscles
  • Long labours or difficult childbirth
  • Decreased sphincter coordination
  • Conditions including diabetes, alcoholism, and Parkinson’s
  • Blockage caused by bladder stones, prolapse, etc.
  • And more

Overflow incontinence symptoms

The symptoms of overflow incontinence may not vary a great deal from more generalised symptoms surrounding incontinence issues, but patients with any concerns should especially look out for –

  • Straining to empty bladder
  • Unexpected leaking of urine
  • Bladder fullness even after urination
  • Poor urine flow
  • Frequent UTI’s

Overflow incontinence treatment

Overflow urinary incontinence is most often diagnosed through the collection of patient histories as well as physical examinations that may include urine analysis and uroflowmetry, which calculates the flow rate of urine. Results collected during these diagnostics will then be used to develop treatment options, which may include medications to address initial discomfort, as well as the management of any pre-existing conditions identified (e.g. prolapse, pelvic floor dysfunction, etc.).

After this, overflow incontinence treatment will largely revolve around educational and physical focuses, that may centre on –

  • Pelvic floor anatomy
  • Timed voiding (every 2-3 hours)
  • Post void residual volume
  • Voiding dynamics/strategies

Re-evaluation should also be implemented to ensure results or, if overflow incontinence continues, to enable referral for multi-disciplinary treatments moving forward, or further assessment that eliminate the possibility of underlying causes.

Urinary incontinence is by no means a permanent condition, and our highly trained pelvic physiotherapists here at Sydney Pelvic Clinic are on hand to provide evidence-based management plans for the symptoms of overflow urinary incontinence at any stage. Our personal approach is especially crucial for recovery from a condition that is different for everyone, allowing you to enjoy the relief that you’ve been so sorely missing until now. Simply book an appointment with a member of our team today to get started.