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Reflex Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Reflex Incontinence

Have you had unexpected urine leakages — despite not experiencing any type of sensation that you had to urinate in the first place?

If so, it's possible that you are potentially ailing from a type of urinary incontinence1 called reflex incontinence.

While you may undergo some symptoms occasionally, this condition can become more serious if the cause is left undiagnosed.

This article will inform you about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of reflex incontinence.

What is Reflex Incontinence?

Reflex incontinence is when your bladder experiences involuntary spasms that lead to urinary leakage. Due to this, you will not feel the urge to urinate — but will experience leakage anyway. 

Moreover, reflex urinary incontinence can occur amongst both men and women, but is prevalent in individuals with neurological impairments.

Symptoms of Reflex Incontinence

If you have reflex incontinence, you will not feel any urge to urinate. But there will be leakage from your genitals without any warning. 

There will be no feeling of fullness in your bladder. This happens when the bladder muscles are unable to communicate effectively with your neural system. 

Symptoms of reflex incontinence, doctor and patient

Different Types of Incontinence

There are different types of incontinence that may occur for different reasons. However, reflex incontinence is a serious condition that requires analysis to determine the cause.

Even so, the diagnosis and treatment for some of the different types of incontinence are similar:

  • Stress incontinence – occurs due to pressure on the bladder from physical activities.
  • Overflow incontinence – also known as dribbling after urination, which happens due to the failure of the bladder to empty itself.
  • Mixed incontinence – here, you will experience both stress and other types of incontinence.
  • Functional incontinence – this is caused by serious illnesses, such as dementia, where you may not be physically or mentally able to reach a bathroom in time.

Determining the type of incontinence you are dealing with should be done by a professional. The doctor may perform one of the following tests to create a proper diagnosis: Urinalysis, blood test, urine culture, cystoscopy, or a cough stress test. 

The Causes of Reflex Incontinence

Reflex incontinence can happen due to the following reasons:

  • Injuries to the spinal cord
  • Damage to the nerves from prior surgery (surgical trauma)
  • Recent radiation treatment or therapy
  • Neurological interference
  • Other underlying diseases (Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s)


The causes of reflex incontinence

Treatment For Reflex Incontinence

A doctor’s advice is important to undergo proper medical treatment. A faulty self-diagnosis can lead to future complications in health.

Therefore, a thorough analysis of your medical history and medical conditions will help determine the cause. Depending on the results, the doctor will likely follow these treatment procedures: 

  • Bladder training
  • Pelvic muscle exercises
  • Use of catheters
  • Proper medication
  • Urethral insert (for women)

Absorbent Products To Help You Manage Reflex Incontinence

Incontinence has a considerable impact on both social and economic aspects of life2. While the products mentioned here won't solve all of your underlying medical issues that created the reflex incontinence, they can certainly restore a sense of normalcy and allow you to go about your daily routine with confidence again. Let unexpected, embarrassing leaks become a thing of the past.

    1. Depend FIT-FLEX Pull Up Underwear (Maximum Absorbency, For Women)

      Top Features:

      • Offers maximum absorbency and an odor-free experience
      • Infused with a dry-shield technology that helps promote comfort and a prolonged dryness
      • Form-fitting elastic bands have security and flexibility that ensures no slip-offs
      • Has a discreet fit with zero chances of leakage
      • Comes in versatile size variants and creates a comfortable, pleasant feel
      • Discreet packaging with feminine designs

      2. Depend REAL-FIT Pull Up Underwear (Maximum Absorbency, For Men)

        Top Features:

        • Infused with a soft cotton topsheet material that ensures heavy absorbency
        • Discreetly helps men deal with incontinence
        • Premium and sleek feel that makes it comfortable for prolonged wear
        • Breathable fabric with secure fit waistbands that are durable
        • Helps prevent leaks, and has an odorless texture
        • Comes in two sizes customized for proper fit 

        3. Tranquility Select Unisex Incontinence Pads (Light Absorbency)

        Tranquility Select Unisex Incontinence Pad, Light absorbency, Individually packaged

          Top Features:

          • Dimensions of 5.5 inches x 10.5 inches that are customized to fit everyone
          • Uniform fluid diffusion ensures light absorbency
          • No leakage, keeping you stress-free
          • Fragrant-free pads with delicate polymer core
          • Tested and certified to promote skin wellness
          • Suitable for both men and women

          4. TENA Large Underpad (Light Absorbency)

            Top Features:

            • Broad dimensions of 29.5 inches x 29.5 inches
            • Light absorbent and waterproof core
            • Advanced moisture lock technology
            • Proper fluid dispersion and comfort
            • Infused with bacteria fighting care that helps maintain hygiene
            • Helps make your skin feel clean and healthy

            With the help of these incontinence relief products, you can live a normal lifestyle again. However, getting a diagnosis should be your top priority. 


            Is incontinence a normal part of aging?

            Urinary incontinence does happen to impact nearly half of women in the 50–80 age bracket. Though aging may be a factor, urinary incontinence is actually not an inevitable part of getting older. A healthy diet and exercise regimen may help keep these issues at bay.  

            Is incontinence considered a disability?

            Incontinence issues, like significant mobility issues, may be considered disabilities, even if you don't consider yourself handicapped.

            When should you see a doctor for incontinence?

            If you're humiliated by urine leaks and skip essential tasks as a result, schedule an appointment with your health care physician. If you often feel the need to urinate and hurry to the nearest toilet, but you don't always reach it in time or — you have frequent urges to urinate yet are unable to do so, that's also a good time to schedule an appointment.

            What does a urologist do for incontinence?

            Urologists are skilled in treatments such as sling procedures for urinary incontinence or prolapse, mending urinary organs, clearing obstructions, vasectomy, removing tissue from enlarged prostates, or even removing the prostate entirely.


            Reflex incontinence urologist

            Summing Up

            The symptoms of reflex incontinence can deteriorate your way of life. Therefore, if you are experiencing involuntary reflex urinary incontinence, getting a doctor’s advice will be ideal.

            It may be due to prior trauma or nerve damage, which requires medical attention. So, until you can visit a doctor, take preventive measures by using the absorbent products mentioned. 


            1. Types of Urinary Incontinence by Harvard Health Publishing
            2. The Prevalence Of Urinary Incontinence by Victor W. Nitti, PMCID: PMC1476070, PMID: 16985992

            Disclaimer: The information presented here is purely for educational purposes and should not be used in place of the advice of your doctor or physician.