Urinary incontinence refers to the inability for the bladder to retain urine through an involuntary or accidental loss. Incontinence is a very common condition with over 4.8million Australians suffering from both bladder and bowel problems and can be due to a number of causes.
Urinary incontinence is often associated with pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, asthma, diabetes, arthritis and a number of other conditions.
The most common types of bladder incontinence are:
• Stress incontinence
• Urge incontinence
• Mixed (both stress and urge)
Stress urinary incontinence occurs when there is an increased pressure in the abdomen and therefore force on the bladder. Both women and men suffer with stress incontinence and typically occurs with activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, running and lifting objects.
Stress incontinence may occur due to a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles that are unable to support the bladder and quickly close the urethra. Women often experience stress incontinence following pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, organ prolapse or may be due to muscle overactivity. Men may too experience stress incontinence, and occurs commonly after prostrate surgery.
Urge incontinence refers to the strong, sudden desire to empty the bladder, which is very difficult to defer. The sensation of needing to void is often triggered by the environment including the sound of running water or when returning home and putting a key in the lock.
Overflow refers to the bladder reaching its peak capacity before going to the toilet to empty. The muscle surrounding the bladder alerts us when the bladder needs to be emptied due to a stretching sensation when full. Occasionally this sensation does not occur and leaking may occur.
All cases of urinary incontinence should be assessed by a health professional as they can be treated and managed. It is important to remember that incontinence is not a normal part of ageing or pregnancy, but merely a temporary condition that can often be cured.
Neumann P, Grimmer K, Grant R and Gill V (2005): Physiotherapy for female stress urinary incontinence: a multicentre observational study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 45: 226-232Can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15904449
MacLennan A, Taylor A, Wilson DH and Wilson D (2000): The prevalence of pelvic floor disorders and their relationship to gender, age, parity and mode Opinion of delivery. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 107: 1460-1470Can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11192101