After eating or drinking, your kidneys filter the blood to remove water and waste from the body. This filtration process produces urine. The urine travels down smooth tubes called ureters into the bladder. Normally, you feel the need to use the toilet once the bladder holds 150-250ml of urine. Once ready to urinate, your brain gives the message to your bladder to contract and push urine out. Sphincters and pelvic floor muscles relax enough to allow the bladder to be emptied through the urethra.
Urinary Incontinence is the medical term more commonly defined as “the unintentional passing of urine”. It can happen to men and women of any age and is when the normal process of storing and passing urine is disrupted.
Urinary Incontinence is a very common problem affecting up to 6 million people in the United Kingdom according to the NHS and up to 200 million people worldwide (World Health Organization Calls First International Consultation on Incontinence. Press Release WHO/49, 1 July 1998). Although women are five times more likely to develop urinary incontinence than men, over 10% of men over 65 have urinary incontinence to some degree, and this incidence increases significantly with age. It is likely that actual incidence of bladder or urinary incontinence is higher than the numbers reported as many people never report their condition.
Very few people seek assistance with urinary incontinence although there are a number of treatments and exercises that can be used to help improve the condition. There are many reasons why the problem is not disucssed openly including:
- People are unaware of high widespread the condition is and believe it’s only they who experience it
- Many people believe that incontinence is simply a natural process of ageing and nothing can be done about it
- People are unaware of the large variety of incontinence products available to help them manage the condition effectively.
Many people go to great lengths to hide their condition from family and friends. In some cases this can go for many years before others who could help are aware of the condition. If you are one of these people you probably know where every toilet is before you leave your home to go out. Perhaps if there are no toilets available where you plan to go you will avoid a trip. In some of the worst situations people have given up on jobs or hobbies they love because they are worried about what might happen, and have declined invitations to important events such as weddings or parties.
Family and friends can be baffled by such behaviour and the problem may just get worse and worse, however the most important thing is to seek help and advice and to take control of the condition.
Urinary Incontinence can range in severity from occasionally losing a few drops of urine through to frequent heavy losses and is a widespread and significant health issue that can be very costly to patients if not managed effectively, both in terms of products and time but more importantly in terms of quality of life.
Facts you should know about Urinary Incontinence
- Urinary Incontinence is a very common problem affecting up to 6 million people in the United Kingdom according to the NHS and up to 200 million people worldwide (World Health Organization Calls First International Consultation on Incontinence. Press Release WHO/49, 1 July 1998)
- Incontinence is not normal at any age and is not a direct result of the ageing process.
- Incontinence is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition. If you experience Incontinence then it is important to consult a Health Professional in order to find out the cause and treat it if possible.
- Incontinence may often be helped by simple, low cost, procedures that do not require surgery, drugs or lengthy treatment.
- Women are 5 times more likely to develop urinary incontinence then men.
- Half the female population will experience urinary incontinence at some time in their lives.
- Only one if five women affected seek help for incontinence issues.
- 6% of women between 15 to 44 experience continence issues.
- Over 10% of men over 65 have urinary incontinence to some degree.
- In 80 to 90% of cases, treatment can improve the condition.
- The World Health Organisation reported that incontinence is a largely preventable and treatable condition and that it's "certainly not an inevitable consequence of ageing," adding that "the most typical reaction exhibited by patients when they are diagnosed with poor bladder control was not fear nor disbelief, but relief." (World Health Organization Calls First International Consultation on Incontinence. Press Release WHO/49, 1 July 1998)
- It is likely that actual incidence of urinary incontinence is higher than the numbers reported as many people never report their condition.