Common questions and answers about incontinence


To help you understand more about managing bladder or bowel control loss, here are some answers to commonly asked questions about incontinence.


How many people have incontinence issues?

The National Association For Continence (NAFC) reports that 265 million people around the world are affected by either urinary or fecal incontinence.


What causes urinary incontinence?

There are many different causes of urinary incontinence. Some common causes are weakened pelvic floor muscles (childbirth may affect these muscles); weight gain (the extra pounds can put added pressure on the muscles that control urine output); medical conditions such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis; medications; and urinary tract infections. Your doctor can help you determine what may be causing your urinary incontinence issues.


What are the most common types of urinary incontinence?

In general, the most common types of urinary incontinence include the following:

Stress incontinence: Accidental urine leakage caused by unexpected movement, like a sneeze, cough or laugh.

Urge incontinence: Also called OAB, or overactive bladder, when you feel like you need to use the bathroom and then you aren’t able to get to the toilet in time.

Overflow incontinence: Occurs in people who have difficulty emptying the bladder.

Functional incontinence: Physical issues or medical conditions that make it difficult to use the bathroom.

Mixed incontinence: A combination of more than one type of urinary incontinence.


Is the incidence of urinary incontinence greater in women or men?

Yes. Women are twice as likely to have incontinence as men. Women tend to experience more episodes of stress incontinence when an unexpected event, such as a cough or sneeze, triggers urine loss.  Men, on the other hand, are at greater risk for overflow incontinence when they can’t fully empty their bladder.


Is urinary incontinence inevitable as you age?

No. While it’s true that elderly people tend to have incontinence more frequently than younger people, urinary incontinence isn’t inevitable. There are several incontinence treatment options your doctor may recommend such as medications, training, and based on severity, even surgical approaches. Also, there are incontinence absorption products available to help you.


How often do I change my disposable incontinence guard (men)/ panty liner or pad (women)?

The National Institutes of Health recommends that you change your pad frequently, even if it isn’t wet. They advise to “set aside time to change 2 to 4 times a day at the same times every day,” to help keep skin healthy.


How common is fecal incontinence?

Around one in 12 adults in the U.S. has fecal incontinence, according to the National Institutes of Health. While anyone can have fecal incontinence, it is more common in older adults.


Is the incidence of fecal incontinence greater in women or men?

Women are at a slightly greater risk for developing bowel control loss issues when compared to men.


When should I talk to my doctor about urine or fecal leakage concerns?

You should seek the expert advice of your doctor if you are experiencing accidental loss of bladder or bowel control. 


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