1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced incontinence. We don’t always know what causes incontinence, particularly in women. It is more commonly seen in women that have had children and/or been through menopause. For men, when their prostate has been removed.

Symptoms of incontinence can include:

  • Leaking urine with a cough, laugh, sneeze or physical activity
  • Leaking a small to moderate amount of urine
  • Experiencing sudden strong urges to pass urine
  • Arranging your daily routine around toilet location
  • Experiencing frequent, sudden and/or uncontrollable need to urinate
  • Waking more than once a night to go to the toilet
  • Bowel problems such as poor bowel control, soiling or difficulty evacuating the bowels.

Stress incontinence – Stress incontinence is triggered by pressure on your abdomen (for example when you laugh, cough, sneeze or do something physical like playing sport or lifting things). 

Urge incontinence – Urge incontinence is triggered by an overactive bladder. It is characterised by strong ‘urges’ to go to the toilet and not making it in time.
Urinary incontinence is very common and can affect up to one in two women (or 30-50 percent). It happens to women of all ages although it becomes more likely the older you are. 

The Bladder

The bladder is a hollow muscular organ situated behind the pubic bone.

The bladder can hold 300-500mls of urine.  It has 2 functions:

  1. The storage of urine, and

  2. Emptying of urine

During storage, the bladder should stay relaxed and gradually expand as it fills with urine to the point where you are aware of a sensation of fullness.

At the emptying stage it is normal to be able to put off or delay passing urine for a short time.  When it is convenient for you to pass urine the bladder muscle contracts to expel the urine from your body.

Following bladder emptying, the filling process begins again.

How can physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapists can design a specialised pelvic floor exercise program tailored to you. Pelvic floor strengthening, strengthens the muscles supporting your bladder.