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Guide by Condition: Incontinence

Posted by Mike Phipps on December 10, 2018

Understanding and living with incontinence


Incontinence is a common problem amongst both men and women. It can be managed with simple lifestyle changes and continence aids to help you feel more confident and maintain independence.

What is incontinence and what causes it?

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine which is a common problem thought to affect up to 6 million people in the UK.

There are many different types of incontinence which can vary from person to person:

  • Stress incontinence is when urine leaks out at times that your bladder is under pressure, for example during coughing or laughing. This can cause pressure on your bladder which results in slight incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence is when you feel a sudden and intense urge to pee.
  • Overflow incontinence is when you are unable to fully empty your bladder which results in frequent leaking.
  • Total incontinence is when your bladder can’t store any urine at all, meaning you are passing constantly or have frequent leaking.

The causes of incontinence can result from damage to pelvic floor muscles, by a blockage or more. Certain aspects can also increase the likeliness of incontinence such as pregnancy, obesity, increasing age (but is not an inevitable part of this) and can also affect you if your family has a history of incontinence.

If you think you have any type of urinary incontinence, it is important to see your GP as soon as possible. Talking to your GP about the symptoms you are experiencing can be the first step towards finding the best way to effectively manage a sensitive bladder.


The importance of talking about incontinence

Although sensitive bladders and incontinence are incredibly common amongst men and women, talking about it is still considered a bit of a taboo, even though the NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence.  That’s 1 in 3 women over the age of 18 and 1 in 4 men over the age of 40.

Talking about it with a partner, family member or friend when you are experiencing bladder sensitivity can be the first step in finding solutions and remedies to help you live confidently.

If you have been acting a little out of character or your behaviour has changed, approaching the subject first may come as a relief to your loved one who may have been worried or assuming worse. Not only this but just talking about it to someone will help take the weight off your own shoulders and bring yourself some relief. Bringing it up in conversation can feel awkward, so explaining any changes in behaviour and how it has been affecting you and how you are feeling will help them understand the situation. Encourage them to ask questions and raise any concerns they may have so that you can work together and have the support you need from loved ones.


What treatment and continence aids can help?

Rest assured there are a variety of incontinence products to suit men and women, that can make life a little easier living with a sensitive bladder.

When you first visit a doctor, they may suggest a few simple lifestyle changes to help minimise or control incontinence such as pelvic floor exercises, losing weight, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol and bladder training guided by a specialist.

Continence aids can help ease daily life and help you stay protected and dry. There are hundreds of types of incontinence wear from washable male and reusable female briefs to disposable male and female pads.

Washable chair pads are a great way to manage extreme incontinence, especially in care settings. Waterproof bedding and bed pads are an ideal way to stay dry and comfortable through the night.

More information: