Urinary Incontinence









How common is urinary incontinence?

Although the majority of individuals that suffer from urinary incontinence are female (85%), men can also suffer from this problem. You may think that urinary incontinence is not common but it is with over 3 million Canadians suffering from its symptoms.


Causes of urinary incontinence

So why do people have this problem? There are a number of contributing factors and they can vary between men and women but the most common one is weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. Other factors that can be associated with urinary incontinence are:

  • Neurological injury or disease;
  • Increasing age;
  • Menopause can bring on or worsen all forms of incontinence because estrogen loss contributes to the weakness of muscles and tissues in the pelvic floor area, which supports the bladder and urinary tract;
  • Prostate surgery;
  • Previous pregnancies;
  • Certain medicines (e.g. diuretics);
  • Build-up of stool in the bowels;
  • Urinary tract (bladder) infection;
  • Medical problems such as diabetes and stroke;
  • Smoking;
  • Physical conditions affecting mobility (e.g. MS, arthritis);
  • Obesity;
  • Caffeine and fluid intake;
  • High impact physical activities; and
  • Occupations which involve heavy lifting and straining.


Types of urinary incontinence.

There are various types of urinary incontinence. The main types are:

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence: The leaking of urine associated with coughing, sneezing, straining, exercise or any other type of exertion.
  • Urge Incontinence: The leaking of large amounts of urine associated with the sudden uncontrollable urge to empty the bladder.
  • Overflow Incontinence: The constant leaking or dribbling from a full bladder.
  • Mixed Incontinence: A combination of stress and urge incontinence.
  • Functional Incontinence: A person may have problems controlling his or her flow but it is made worse due to such things as barriers to the toilet, lack of mobility, medication issues, etc.



There are various ways in which the symptoms of urinary incontinence can be addressed. One way is through the use of various absorbent undergarments. This tends to be very expensive with some people spending up to $1500 per year. As well, the stigma attached to wearing such undergarments can be very embarrassing to some people. Another way to treat this issue is through surgery. This is of course invasive and involves the side-effects that are inherent to surgery.

Physiotherapy is another way in which the symptoms of incontinence can be treated. A physiotherapist that is qualified in the assessment and treatment of urinary incontinence can provide intervention that may treat the underlying cause(s) of incontinence. As well the therapist will provide education in symptom management and support in lifting some of the stigma surrounding this issue. Treatment will involve internal and external assessments, exercise and manual physiotherapy techniques. All assessment and intervention techniques will be fully explained and you will have the opportunity to refuse any intervention should you refuse to do so. Partnering with your physiotherapist will give you tools to help yourself regain control.



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