Incontinence: When You Gotta Go...

The loss of bladder control can be not only a nuisance, but embarrassing as well. There are many types of incontinence. For women, it is often an unexpected leak and for men it can be sudden urge to urinate.

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Types of incontinence

In general, incontinence is a loss of bladder control. There are many different causes and many different types.  The four most common types are:
  • Stress incontinence is when small amounts of urine leak out because of increased pressure on the bladder during things such as coughing, laughing, and jumping.
  • Urge incontinence is when urine leaks from the bladder when you have a strong urge to urinate but you can’t reach the toilet fast enough.
  • Overflow incontinence occurs when there is a blockage in the bladder that causes the bladder to overfill and leak.
  • Functional incontinence occurs when a person can’t get to the toilet in a timely manner. This occurs in situations where people have mobility issues or other disabilities, e.g., dementia, and can’t get to a washroom or remove clothing on time.

Men vs. women

While incontinence is usually much more common in women than in men, it can be bothersome for both. Below are some differences between the sexes.

  • Stress incontinence is more common in women than in men
  • Urge incontinence (overactive bladder) is common in both but is the most common type seen in men
  • Overflow incontinence is more common in men than in women
  • Functional incontinence occurs in both men and women

Risk factors

  • Prostate enlargement
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Prior pelvic surgeries
    • bowel resections
    • removal of the prostate
  • Nerve conditions
  • multiple sclerosis
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • Elderly
  • Childbirth
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Menopause
  • Prior pelvic surgeries
    • hysterectomy
  • Increased weight
  • Nerve conditions
  • multiple sclerosis
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • Elderly


How to prevent it


It’s not always possible to prevent incontinence but there are things that you can do to reduce your chances of getting stress incontinence.

  • Eat a high fibre diet
    - A high fibre diet can help prevent constipation. Long-term constipation can put pressure on the bladder
  • Maintain a healthy weight
    - Being overweight can also put pressure on the bladder
  • Be physically active
    - Exercise, in general, helps the pelvic floor, which is the sling of muscle directly responsible for bladder control
    - There are also specific exercises that can help strengthen the pelvic floor

How to deal with it

Treatment for incontinence depends on the type and severity of the problem. Working with your doctor you can find the approach or approaches that work for you. Below are some common approaches:

  • Behavioural therapy – bladder training, scheduled toilet trips, fluid and diet management, reduction of caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Physical therapy – kegel exercises (exercises for the pelvic floor), electrical stimulation
  • Medication
  • Medical devices – urethral insert (a disposable tampon-like device), pessary (a stiff ring inserted into the vagina)
  • Surgery
  • Protective pads and garments

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is knowledgable about incontinence and how you can help manage it... Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

The pharmacist at Walmart does not endorse or recommend any sponsor or their products or services.
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