It is difficult to get entirely accurate statistics for the amount of people living with incontinence, because many people are too embarrassed to talk about it, even with their health care practitioners. It hаѕ bееn еѕtimаtеd thаt a mеrе third оf реорlе аѕk thеir dосtоr for help in аllеviаting blаddеr рrоblеmѕ.
Numbers from the Global Forum on Incontinence estimate that 3-11% of men and 30-60% of women live with incontinence.
The good news is that most types of urinary continence can be treated or the symptoms can be relieved. In addition, many products exist to help improve quality of life while the problem persists.
Stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence, and occurs when the bladder is under stress or pressure. It is often caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, which causes everyday actions such as sneezing, laughing or exercise to result in leakage. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women over 40 experience stress incontinence.
People with urge incontinence feel an intense and sudden urge to urinate. The urge is so strong that it is not possible to hold back the urine. Generally this urge is felt frequently throughout the day. As a result, people with urge incontinence often end up going to the toilet more often than necessary, making the bladder even weaker, or avoid drinking liquids, even though hydration is very important for bladder health. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women over 65 experience urge incontinence.
Incontinence can have various causes. The most common cause of incontinence is weakening or damaging of the pelvic floor muscles. This can for example be the result of a pregnancy, childbirth, or hormonal changes in menopause.
Incontinence can also be caused by underlying neurological disorders, which is one more reason it is important to consult with a health care practitioner if you are experiencing incontinence.
An estimated 40% of women experience urinary incontinence during pregnancy. During pregnancy, as the baby grows, the uterus pushes down on the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles.
The pregnancy hormone hCG also causes an increase in the amount of blood in the body, and the supply of blood to the kidneys is faster than normal. The result is that the bladder fills up faster and pregnant women have to go to the toilet more often during pregnancy.
Most problems with bladder control during pregnancy go away within 6 weeks after childbirth, once the muscles have had some time to heal. If the problems persist, it is important to speak to a health care practitioner.
Some women start experiencing urinary incontinence when they reach menopause. Some researchers have found that low levels of the hormone estrogen may weaken the urethra, which helps keep urine in the bladder until the woman is ready to urinate.
In addition, the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder may become weakened with time. When the muscles that support the urinary tract are weakened, the muscles in the urinary tract work harder to hold back the urine. The extra stress or pressure on the bladder and urethra can cause urinary incontinence or leakage.