Urinary incontinence affects more than 13 million Americans, 85 percent of which are women. It is more common than most chronic conditions, affecting 25 percent of reproductive-aged women and 50 percent of postmenopausal women.

A number of factors may contribute to incontinence, including:

Childbirth, when tissues, muscles and nerves supporting the urethra may be damaged
Obesity
Hysterectomy, which increases the risk of incontinence by 30 to 40 percent
Recurrent urinary tract infections
Illness such as diabetes, lung disease or stroke
The most common types of incontinence are stress incontinence, urge incontinence (often called overactive bladder), or a combination of the two, called mixed incontinence.

Incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process, and there are a variety of treatments available. At UCSF, women with incontinence are treated at Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery clinics. A leader in the field, the program was recognized as an exceptional national model in 2004 with the first annual Continence Care Champion award from the National Association for Continence.

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