What is Incontinence?

At incontinence 101 we are focused on helping anyone experiencing incontinence by educating and providing solutions.

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence or UI is a term that can describe an involuntary loss of urine, fecal matter, or it could involve both. A recent forum on the study of incontinence had some eye-opening numbers.

Over 303 million women and 121 million men worldwide are affected by some sort of incontinence. If you combined these numbers into one country it would be the third largest in the world, only behind Indian and China.

Over 50% of these individuals are not being treated because of embarrassment, mis-education, or misinterpretation of symptoms.

Types of urinary incontinence include

  1. Stress incontinence. Urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.
  2. Urge incontinence. You have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to often urinate, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by a minor condition, such as infection, or a more-severe condition such as a neurological disorder or diabetes.
  3. Overflow incontinence. You experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn’t empty completely.
  4. Functional incontinence. A physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the bathroom in time. For example, if you have severe arthritis, you may not be able to unbutton your pants quickly enough.
  5. Mixed incontinence. You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence.


Incontinence is a symptom not a disease, that is caused by underlying medical conditions or physical issues. Ultimately my goal is to provide you knowledge as a base and you should always seek medical professional advice for any issues you might be experiencing.

Temporary urinary incontinence can be caused by stimulating your bladder with things that can act as diuretics such as food, drinks, and certain medications.

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Chocolate
  • Chili peppers
  • Foods that are spicy, high in sugar or acid
  • Heart and blood pressure medicine, sedatives and muscle relaxants

Persistent urinary incontinence can be caused by an underlying physical problem or change.

  • Pregancy
  • Childbirth
  • Changes with age
  • Menopause
  • Hysterectomy
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate cancer
  • Neurological disorders

Factors that can increase your chance of developing urinary incontinence.

  • Gender – Women are more likely to have stress incontinence due to pregnancy and child birth due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
  • Age- As we age the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose their strength, which leads to involuntary loss of urine.
  • Overweight – The extra weight affects the pressure on your bladder and surrounding tissues.
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Neurological diseases
  • Diabetes

Incontinence Definitions A-Z

Absorbency – All briefs, pads and liners have different absorbencies to them based on how much polymer’s they contain.

Adult brief (commonly known as a Diaper or Nappy in England) – A piece of absorbent material with a waterproof outer layer that is arranged between the legs and around the waist. Has multiple sticky tabs and is intended to be discarded after a single use.

Bladder leakage – Difficulty in controlling the bladder which leads to an involuntary loss of urine. This can also be known as urinary incontinence or UI.

Enuresis – Nighttime loss of bladder control (bed wetting)

Fecal incontinence – Inability to control bowel movements, which can cause feces to leak unexpectedly from the rectum.

Functional incontinence – is a form of urinary incontinence in which a person is aware of the need to urinate, but for one or more mental or physical reasons they are unable to get to a bathroom. Loss of urine can vary from small leakages to full void of bladder.

Guards (also called liners) – Made for men with light to moderate incontinence. Guards are cup shaped to follow the contours of the male anatomy. These pads are meant to be worn inside underwear and have an adhesive strip to keep them in place.

Incontinence – The involuntary loss of bladder and or/bowel function.

Menopause – Describes any of the changes a woman goes through either just before or after she stops menstruating, marking the end of her reproductive period.

Micturition – The act of urinating.

Mixed incontinence – Combination of urge and stress incontinence, or mixed symptoms.

Neurological bladder disorders – Damage to the nerves as a result of illness that can affect the way the brain and bladder communicate. This in turn results in an inability to control or empty your bladder completely.

Overflow incontinence – Usually caused by an obstruction or nerve damage which can result in constant or episodic flow of urine.

Pads – Made for very light to heavy bladder leakage. Same as the guards for men these have an adhesive strip on one side to help secure the pad in your underwear.

Pantiliners – Similar to a pad these are much slimmer and smaller than their counterpart. These are meant for someone who has very light bladder leakage.

Pelvic floor exercises – Exercises that involve contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are meant to strengthen the muscles which enable increased urethral closure pressure.

Pelvic muscles – The pelvic floor muscles form a broad sling between your legs from the pubic bone in front to the base of your spine at the back.

Polymer – The secret, water-absorbing chemical that is a super absorbent polymer called sodium polyacrylate. A polymer is a long chain of repeating molecules. Polymers expand tremendously when they come in contact with water, acting much like a sponge. Some can hold up to as much as 800 times their weight in water.

Post-micturition dribble – When the bladder doesn’t empty completely and continues to leak after urinating.

Prostate – A gland in men that is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra. In some men this gland can grow larger which can obstruct the urethra. This in turn causes a poor stream of urine.

Stress incontinence – Incontinence that occurs with a sudden physcial exertion such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise or heavy lifting. It usually only involves small amounts and is generally connected to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

Underactive bladder is defined as a contraction of reduced strength and/or duration resulting in prolonged bladder emptying and/or a failure to achieve complete bladder emptying within a normal time span.

Underpads – Large absorbent pads designed to protect surfaces you might lie or sit down (chairs, or beds for example.)

Underwear – Similar to adult briefs however these are worn just like underwear that you pull on and off minus the tabs. Made for men and women they provide protection for both moderate to heavy incontinence.

Urge incontinence – This occurs when you have a sudden urge to urinate. In urge incontinence, the bladder contracts when it shouldn’t, causing some urine to leak through the sphincter muscles holding the bladder closed.

Wipes – These are used to cleanse and soothe the skin.


Absorbment garments such as liners, briefs, pull-on’s, underpads are all good options for most people to manage this on a daily basis. They are a good economical choices that are fairly easy to order and receive right to your home. Many people struggle with the embarrassment of going to their local grocery store and do want anyone to know what they are going through. This is why ordering incontinence products online can be discreet, quick and cheaper.

Urinary incontinence can be caused by many things, but it can be treated or managed. There are remedies for urinary incontinence that can include medications and surgery. For this reason, it is important to talk to your doctor or a continence advisor about your symptoms, in order to get on top of them.

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