Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Urinary Incontinence Anatomy

To better understand urinary incontinence, it helps to understand the anatomy of the bladder and genitourinary system.

In an adult, the bladder can hold 10 to 20 ounces of urine--about as much liquid as in one can of soda. Urine is carried out of the body through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.

As the bladder fills, it pushes against the rest of the organs in the abdomen. Urine empties from the bladder through the urethra. Muscles located in the base of the urethra control the flow of urine. During urination, these muscles relax, and urine is allowed to pass.

Anatomy examples:

  • Genitourinary system
  • Bladder and lower urinary tract in women
  • Bladder and lower urinary tract in men

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Urinary Incontinence References
  1. Nuotio M, Jylha M, Luukkaala T, Tammela TL. Urgency, urge incontinence and voiding symptoms in men and women aged 70 years and over. BJU Int. 2002 Mar;89(4):350-5. [11872023]
  2. Siegel SW, Catanzaro F, Dijkema HE, Elhilali MM, Fowler CJ, Gajewski JB, Hassouna MM, Janknegt RA, Jonas U, van Kerrebroeck PE, Lycklama a Nijeholt AA, Oleson KA, Schmidt RA. Long-term results of a multicenter study on sacral nerve stimulation for treatment of urinary urge incontinence, urgency-frequency, and retention. Urology. 2000 Dec 4;56(6 Suppl 1):87-91. [11114569]
  3. Zinner N, Harnett M, Sabounjian L, Sandage B Jr, Dmochowski R, Staskin D. The overactive bladder-symptom composite score: a composite symptom score of toilet voids, urgency severity and urge urinary incontinence in patients with overactive bladder. J Urol. 2005 May;173(5):1639-43. [15821526]
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