Total Incontinence

Skip Navigation


Total incontinence is the full loss of urinary control. You may always leak urine, or your bladder may release urine from time to time without your control. Nerve or muscle problems can keep your bladder from storing urine. Or this condition may happen if an opening (fistula) forms between the bladder and the vagina.

What causes total incontinence?

Total incontinence can be caused by nerve and muscle problems that affect the bladder. These problems can keep the bladder from being able to store and empty urine. Another cause is an opening (fistula) that forms between the bladder and the vagina. Spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions also can cause total incontinence.

How is it treated?

Total incontinence is usually treated by using a thin flexible tube, called a catheter. 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.


Current as of: November 15, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

Next Section:


The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.