Q: What is incontinence?
A: Incontinence is the medical term for being unable to inhibit or control the release of urine (urinary incontinence) or faeces (faecal incontinence).
Q: What are the different types of urinary incontinence?
A: There are several different types of urinary incontinence, each with different causes and symptoms. The most common types are stress urinary incontinence, urge urinary incontinence and mixed urinary incontinence.
Q: What is neurogenic bladder?
A: Neurogenic bladder refers to a condition where neurological conditions damage lead to bladder dysfunction.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence?
A: Urinary incontinence can have different signs and symptoms depending on the underlying cause and severity. Some typical signs include:
Q: What causes incontinence?
- involuntary leakage of urine without warning or without feeling the need to go to the toilet
- involuntary leakage of urine when sneezing, coughing, laughing or exercising
- a sudden urge to rush to the toilet either before or when leaking urine
- urine escaping before reaching a toilet
- the need to get up to pass urine two or more times a night
A: There are many different causes of incontinence and, as a result, it can affect people at any age. Potential causes include:
- damage or weakness to the muscles in the pelvic floor (most commonly due to pregnancy and childbirth)
- problems with the control of the bladder muscle
- neurological conditions that affect the voluntary release of urine (such as spina bifida or multiple sclerosis)
- an enlarged prostate gland in men
- urinary tract infection
- type 2 diabetes
Q: Is incontinence very common?
A: Although the exact number of people affected by urinary incontinence is unknown (many people never visit a healthcare professional or reveal their symptoms), urinary incontinence is much more common than you might think.
Studies suggest that between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2 adult women are affected by urinary incontinence, many of whom live independent and active lives. And although urinary incontinence is less common in men, it still affects around 1 in 20 men aged 18 and above, and 1 in 10 men aged 60 and above.
Q: Is incontinence a natural part of aging?
A: Although incontinence becomes more common with advancing age, it’s not just older people who are affected. Effective solutions are available, so it shouldn’t stop you from living a full and active life, whatever your age.
Q: How is it possible to continue a social life with incontinence?
A: It’s possible to manage incontinence effectively – and with the right solution there should be no need to worry about leaks, odour, toilet facilities or finding somewhere to change. A doctor or nurse should be able to help find a solution that makes it possible to continue a social life and everyday activities.
Q: Can incontinence be treated?
A: Some types of incontinence can be treated or improved through lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, medication or surgery.
If a cure isn’t possible or a temporary solution is required, products such as catheters, urisheaths (for men) or absorbent products can be very helpful.
Find out more
Read about the symptoms and treatments.