What are the potential complications of untreated urinary incontinence?

Written by: Mr Angus J.M. Thomson
Edited by: Conor Lynch

In one of our latest medical articles here below, extremely well-regarded consultant gynaecologist, Mr Angus J.M. Thomson, details the different types of urinary incontinence before going on to reveal the diagnostic process and treatment options for patients experiening urinary incontinence. 

What is urinary incontinence, and what are the different types of urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is basically the involuntary loss or leakage of urine. The two main types of incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is incontinence caused by any increased pressure on the bladder. Urge incontinence is where there is an involuntary contraction of the bladder muscle. 


The final type of incontinence is overflow incontinence. This is caused because you can’t empty your bladder properly. Due to this, urinary retention occurs.

What are the most common causes of urinary incontinence, and who is most at risk?

The different types of incontinence have different causes. The main cause of stress incontinence is childbirth. Other causes include intense exercise. 


Urge incontinence has many factors that contribute to it. The main ones include: 

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Recurrent urinary infections


How is urinary incontinence diagnosed, and what are the available treatment options?

Diagnosis includes listening thoroughly to how the patients describe their symptoms. In terms of investigations, we carry out a number of bladder tests, including filling in a bladder diary. 


The other test is a flow test, where the patient urinates into a special toilet. We can then see how quickly the urine comes out, how much urine comes out, and what the flow rate is like. We can also measure how much urine is left behind in the bladder, which tells us how well you are emptying the bladder. 


We also use a catheter used (inserted into the bladder). This test can show us all we need to know about bladder pressure. The main treatment options include lifestyle changes, conservative measures, medical treatments, and surgical treatments. For stress incontinence, modifying your diet and doing pelvic floor exercises can really help.


Physiotherapy is also highly beneficial. Vaginal pessaries can also be beneficial to some patients. For urge incontinence, lifestyle modifications are also highly effective.


Being careful about what you are drinking is very important for patients suffering from urge incontinence. Patients should avoid caffeine and fizzy drinks. Pelvic floor exercises, again, really help patients with urge incontinence. Botox treatment can also be an effective treatment option. 


What are the potential complications of untreated urinary incontinence, and how can they be prevented?

Bladder issues really centre more on quality of life instead of potentially fatal complications. Thus, patients suffering from urinary incontinence should focus on lifestyle modifications


Occasionally, urinary incontinence can sometimes be related to recurrent urinary tract infections, which can have a negative impact on kidney function


To book a consultation slot with Mr Angus J.M. Thomson, just head on over to his Top Doctors profile today. 

By Mr Angus J.M. Thomson
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Mr Angus Thomson is a leading consultant gynaecologist based in Worcestershire. He specialises in the treatment of endometriosis, pelvic pain and prolapse. He is additionally renowned for his expertise in menstrual problems, fibroids and female urinary incontinence, as well as his skill as a laparascopic (minimally invasive) surgeon.

After completing his initial medical training in the UK, Mr Thomson completed a two-year fellowship in laparoscopic, hysteroscopic and urogynaecological surgery in Sydney, Australia. He has been based at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust since 2005, where he has held various senior positions, as well as his role as consultant gynaecologist, including gynaecology lead and clinical director. He currently serves as divisional medical director for women’s and children’s services. Mr Thomson's current practice at the Worcester gynaecology department is a nationally accredited BSUG (British Society of Urogynaecology) urogynaecology unit, and is a BSGE (British Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy) endometriosis centre.

In addition to his busy clinical practice, Mr Thomson is widely published and presents nationally on areas of his expertise. He also serves on the National Council of the BSGE (British Society of Gynaecological Endoscopy) and additionally coordinates the educational and scientific meetings of the BSUG (British Society of Urogynaecology). Across his esteemed career, Mr Thomson's excellence has been recognised with a number of awards for his research and his practice. He additionally offers specialist training for GPs on many topics such as innovations in gynaecology and menopause management amongst others. 

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Platelet-rich plasma
    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    Cosmetic Consulting
    Breast reconstruction
    Congenital malformations
    Sexual dysfunction
    Erectile dysfunction
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.