When you don’t feel the urge to urinate, the bladder may become overfilled, and urine may start to leak out. You may also not completely empty your bladder, causing urine to back-up and overflow. This condition is called overflow incontinence, or sometimes called “chronic retention of urine” or “chronic urinary retention”.
Overflow incontinence often occurs as the result of a neurological condition that affects the nerves of the bladder, such as a spinal cord injury. Overflow incontinence can also occur in people who have trouble feeling when their bladder is full for reasons like diabetes or neuropathy. Overflow incontinence can also occur as the result of a blockage in the urethra or bladder, including a tumor, scar tissue, or (in men) an enlarged prostate or (in women) a dropped or prolapsed bladder. In both cases the bladder doesn’t empty well and continues to fill, and over time the muscles of the bladder become overstretched and lose some control.
Treatment and Management Techniques for Overflow Incontinence
Overflow incontinence can be a sign or symptom of a neurological condition or abnormal growth, so it is important that you seek medical diagnosis and treatment. Some treatment and management techniques that you might discuss with your healthcare professional are:
- Absorbent products
- Artificial sphincter surgery
- Removal of obstruction
- In men with an enlarged prostate (BPH): surgery on the prostate
- In women with prolapse: surgery for the prolapse or insertion of a pessary
- Sacral nerve stimulation
- Urine collection devices for men
Medical Reviewer: Tamara Dickinson, RN, CURN, CCCN, BCIA-PMDB
Ms. Dickinson, RN, CURN, CCCN, BCIA-PMDB, is a nationally and internationally recognized authority in urodynamics, incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Ms. Dickinson is board certified in urology nursing and continence nursing and is certified in biofeedback for pelvic muscle dysfunction. With 20+ years in the field, Ms. Dickinson is experienced in pelvic floor therapy including biofeedback and neurogenic voiding dysfunction, as well as other pelvic floor and continence therapies such as sacral neuromodulation and pessaries. She is a frequent national presenter on these topics. Ms. Dickinson is the Senior Research Nurse in Continence and Voiding Dysfunction in the Department of Urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. She is a Past President of the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA. She is the Chair of the Continence Promotion Committee and the School of Urodynamics of the International Continence Society. Ms. Dickinson is a recipient of the SUNA President’s Trophy for outstanding contributions to the association. She also received the Past President’s Lectureship Award at the 2006 SUNA Annual. Ms. Dickinson is a member of the Advisory Board for the Simon Foundation for Continence.