Do You Leak? You're Not Alone...

Do You Leak? You're Not Alone...

What is Urinary incontinence and why do I have it?

 Urinary Incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss or leakage of urine. It ranges from an occasional leak when you cough or sneeze to having to rush to the bathroom with the sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate. While it can be difficult to live with, urinary incontinence isn’t a disease — it’s a symptom of another problem.

A treatable condition

Over 3 million Canadians have some form of urinary incontinence.1  Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing, and many people don’t speak to their doctor about the condition, even though it’s very common.

Types of urinary incontinence

The type of urinary incontinence you have is diagnosed based on how and when you leak.

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) leakage happens when you put pressure on your bladder, such as when you laugh, cough, sneeze, exercise or lift something heavy. This happens when the muscles or other tissues that support the urethra (the urinary passage) are weak or damaged.2,3

Urge Incontinence (also known as Overactive Bladder or OAB) happens at the same time as you get the sudden, urgent need to urinate. People with OAB get frequent urges, even during the night, and may not make it to the bathroom in time. OAB is very common, affecting up to 1 in 5 people aged 60 and older in both women and men.4 About half the people with OAB also have SUI.5

Overflow (Chronic Retention): Chronic retention happens when the bladder is unable to empty properly. When this happens, leakage occurs because of overflow.

 Functional: A person has a bladder function however physical disability, problems in thinking or communicating or external obstacles stop a person from reaching a toilet in time.6

 Transient: A temporary situation due to infection, medications, excessive coughing or vomiting causes leaks.

 Risk factors

Here are a few of the factors that increase your risk of developing urinary incontinence: 7

  • Your gender. More common in women, but can also affect men with prostate gland problems.
  • Your age. As you get older, the muscles in your bladder and urethra may weaken and your bladder may not be able to hold as much.
  • Your weight. Being overweight increases pressure on your bladder and the surrounding muscles.
  • Your smoking habits. Smoking increases your risk.  
  • Your family. Your risk is higher if a close family member (father or mother) has urinary incontinence.
  • Chronic diseases. Diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, lung diseases (e.g. COPD), Parkinson’s disease, name a few.

Ways to reduce symptoms

While severe cases of urinary incontinence require medical attention, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your symptoms.8,9

  • Pelvic floor exercises (also referred to as Kegel exercises): Women with stress urinary incontinence who did pelvic floor exercises were 8 times more likely to report they were cured and 17 times more likely to report improvement compared with women in other groups. 10
  •  Increase fluid intake: Drink 6 – 8 glasses of fluid a day—but no more than that unless your doctor says otherwise. 11 
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.

For more practical tips and advice 

Even thought it may feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment because you went your pants, you won’t. You don’t need to “live with it”. Know that you’re not alone in dealing with UI and there is a lot you can do to improve your health and quality of life!

By Leanne Beattie:

An experienced copywriter and content creator with over 20 years of experience. who has a knack for taking complex ideas and making them meaningful and easy to understand. 

 References and links for more information:

  1. The Canadian Continence Foundation
  2. Mayo Clinic
  1. The Consumer’s Handbook of Urological Health
  1. The Consumer’s Handbook of Urological Health
  1. The Canadian Continence Foundation
  1. Schumpf LF et al. Urinary Incontinence & its association with functional physical & cognitive health among women nursing home residents in Switzerland. BMC Geriatrics.
  1. Mayo Clinic
  1. The Canadian Continence Foundation
  1. Dumoulin C, Hay-Smith EJC, Mac Habée-Séguin G. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women.Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD005654.
  1. Gilbert R. Fluid Intake & bladder & bowel function. 2006. Nursing Times: 102(12). 








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