To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Total Incontinence

Table of Contents


Total incontinence is the continuous and total loss of urinary control. It means that you are always leaking urine. It happens when the muscle that controls the release of urine (sphincter) no longer works.

What causes total incontinence?

One cause of total incontinence is neurogenic bladder. This nerve problem prevents the bladder from emptying as it should. Other causes can be spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders that affect nerve function. In women it can be caused by an abnormal connection between the urinary tract and the vagina.

How is it treated?

Total incontinence is usually treated by using a thin flexible tube, called a catheter. You use it to empty the bladder regularly. Absorbent products such as pads or disposable underwear are usually used when other methods of treating incontinence haven't worked or can't be used. These methods may help you manage the problem.

Credits for Total Incontinence

Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Avery L. Seifert MD - Urology

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.