Urinary incontinence is an inability to hold your urine until you get to a toilet. Women experience incontinence two times more often than men. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference.
If coughing, laughing, sneezing or other movements that put pressure on the bladder cause you to leak urine, you may have stress incontinence. Pelvic floor muscles support your bladder. If these muscles weaken, your bladder can move downward, causing a bulge in your vagina. This prevents muscles that ordinarily force the urethra shut from squeezing as tightly as they should. As a result, urine can leak during moments of physical stress.
If you lose urine for no apparent reason while suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate, you may have urge incontinence. The most common cause of urge incontinence is inappropriate bladder contractions. Urge incontinence can mean that your bladder empties during sleep, after drinking a small amount of water, or when you touch water or hear it running (as when someone else is taking a shower or washing dishes).