A study last year at Loyola University Chicago, which was published in the Journal of Microbiology, has found that bacteria present in urine may be the cause of urge urinary incontinence. 

Researchers evaluated urine specimens taken from 90 women with and without urge urinary incontinence, and found that bacteria present in the urine of women with urge urinary incontinence were different to the bacteria present in the urine of women without the condition.

Urge urinary incontinence occurs when a person has a sudden and compelling urge to urinate. The condition, which is currently poorly understood, is thought to be due to an overactive bladder that contracts involuntarily before it is full, or to problems with the nerves controlling the bladder. It is estimated that as many of 50 per cent of patients who seek treatment from their GP for urge urinary incontinence do not respond to conventional treatments.

One of the researchers, Paul Schreckenberger, said the findings may have strong implications for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of urge urinary incontinence, which affects up to 25 per cent of women.

Fellow researcher Alan Wolfe said further investigation would focus on determining how these bacteria caused urge urinary incontinence.

Further to this, if the type of bacteria causing the urge urinary incontinence can be isolated and a new or existing antibiotic used to target them, the quality of life of  women  affected by urge urinary incontinence may be drastically improved.

Ref: Pearce MM, Hilt EE, Rosenfeld AB, Zilliox MJ, Thomas-White K, Fok C, Kliethermes S, Schreckenberger PC, Brubaker L, Gai X, Wolfe AJ. 2014. The female urinary microbiome: a comparison of women with and without urgency urinary incontinence. mBio 5(4):e01283-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.01283-14.