Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence refers to any amount of unintended leakage of urine from your bladder. Urinary incontinence can affect both men and women of all ages. Urinary incontinence is not a disease, it is a symptom of a medical or physical condition. You should always seek advice from your GP, Medical Specialist, Continence Nurse Advisor, or Physiotherapist so they can help you find and treat the underlying cause.

To speak to a Continence Nurse Advisor, call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

About Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the medical term used to describe any form of unintentional urinary leakage. Over 4 million or 21% of all Australians experience some form of Urinary Incontinence. In fact, it affects up to 22% of men and 60% of women. Urinary Incontinence effects both men and women of all ages, although it is more common in older age groups. The most important fact to remember is that urinary incontinence is both treatable and manageable.

You should always speak to your GP if your urinary leakage is a new problem, you are experiencing an increase in your usual leakage pattern, or if you have any discomfort, pain or see any blood when you pass urine. If your urinary leakage begins to affect your social life or everyday activities, you can seek help from either your GP, Continence Nurse Advisor or Physiotherapist. While you are working on solving the cause of your urinary incontinence you can choose an incontinence product from the Depend range to keep yourself clean and dry. 

The right information for you

Urinary Incontinence affects both men and women, but the underlying causes are quite different. Whilst there are many underlying medical conditions, for the majority these are:  

  • for women: pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can weaken a woman’s muscle structure.
  • for men: the main factor stems from prostate enlargement. 

More About Incontinence

Remember, you are not alone there are 4 million Australians who have Urinary Incontinence. Most people find their urinary leakage distressing, but with the right advice and information it’s something that can be easily managed.

Start by reading the sections below, which outlines some of the commonly experienced types and causes of bladder leakage. This information also increases your knowledge about the treatments that may be available to you. By increasing your understanding, you will feel more confident when you speak with your trusted GP or health practitioner.

Urinary incontinence risk factors

There are certain risk factors that may increase your chances of experiencing urinary incontinence.

Some of these factors are:

  • Being constipated: Constipation has a direct effect on your ability to empty your bladder fully or the urgent feelings to urinate. 
  • Being overweight: Many studies have linked obesity to urinary incontinence. The extra weight especially around your abdomen puts additional pressure on your bladder and can cause leakage events.
  • Smoking: A persistent smokers cough increases the pressure on your pelvic floor muscles causing you to leak urine. (This is known as stress incontinence.)
  • Pregnancy and life changes: Traumatic or prolonged vaginal deliveries can disrupt the muscles and nerves use to control the bladder. Menopause can change the moisture levels in the vagina and urethra preventing proper closure of the bladders exit valves
  • Older People: In the latter stages of life you are more likely to experience physical changes and chronic health issues. These changes can contribute to the development of urinary incontinence. 
  • Drinking Alcohol: Alcohol increases the amount of urine you produce and can cause the muscles around the bladder to relax, both of which can increase bladder leakage. 

Obtaining the correct diagnosis is an important step before you and your health professional can select any treatment. To give your health professional the best possible information, go to Treatments for Incontinence to obtain examples and instructions on how to collect this vital information.

When you see the doctor or nurse they may choose to perform a bladder ultrasound or physical examination to assess the strength of a women’s pelvic floor muscles or the size of the man’s prostate.

Living with urinary incontinence

The first thing you should know is that every type of urinary incontinence is treatable. Urinary incontinence is something that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed talking to your GP about. The chances are you have many friends with the same problem so talk to them and encourage each other to seek help. Regardless of your incontinence type start by doing regular pelvic floor exercises. These simple exercises can be done anywhere and at any time. You do not have to join a gym and you can do them surrounded by people who would never know you were busy doing these exercises. Go to Treatments for Incontinence to obtain examples and instructions on how to perform pelvic floor exercises or speak to a Continence Physiotherapist or Continence Nurse Advisor. These allied health professionals can personally guide you. Call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66, they can provide you with the names of your local Continence Physiotherapist or Continence Nurse Advisor. Doing regular pelvic floor exercises will help lessen the severity of your incontinence and improve the reliability of your bladder.

Depend products can offer you a simple way to protect yourself from any social embarrassment. The first trick is to be prepared, carry a spare incontinence product, usually in the form of absorbent guards or underwear specifically designed for urinary incontinence (Depend has a wide variety of incontinence products that you may like to look at). 

Urinary Incontinence for Caregivers

If you’re a caregiver, you already know how demanding the job is. But a loved one who also suffers from incontinence presents a whole different set of challenges. This site provides an abundance of information designed to give you confidence in assisting someone with incontinence.

Learn More

Join the Depend® Community Receive useful info and special offers from Depend.