Let’s start with some of the basics:
Q: What is incontinence? What is urinary incontinence? What does urinary incontinence mean?
A: Incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of bladder and/or bowel control. Urinary incontinence means the loss of urine from your bladder without your control, and bowel or fecal incontinence means the loss of faeces from your bowels without your control.
There are a variety of types of incontinence that fall under the umbrella of ‘urinary incontinence’ that are defined by their triggers.
Additionally the condition of ‘incontinence’ can vary greatly in its severity and the frequency of symptoms from person to person. Urinary Incontinence is a common, and often treatable condition, and not something that is dangerous to your health or indicative of a larger health concern in the majority of cases.
Q: What does incontinent mean?
A: To be incontinent means that you are dealing with a lack of control (to whatever degree) of your bladder and/or bowels. While both men and women can be incontinent, women experience urinary incontinence at twice the rate that men do. This is due to the fact that women’s pelvic floors are much more vulnerable due to differences in the female anatomy and the effects of pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause on the pelvic floor. Additionally, though there is a great deal of stigma and shame around being incontinent, the condition is fairly common. In fact, in the United States 1 in 3 women are incontinent, which translates to roughly 19 million women in the United States alone.
While the majority of women are between the ages of 30 and 80, urinary incontinence can be experienced by women of any age. There are women who are teenagers up until their 90s who deal with UI on a daily basis. Younger women are more likely to see symptoms or experience UI after pregnancy. However, there are a variety of reasons a younger woman could become incontinent.
Q: How can I tell if I am experiencing urinary incontinence?
Sometimes women will think they’re leaking urine, but it could be sweat or discharge. If you’re unsure, you can do a special pad test where you take a medication called phenazopyridine which tints your urine orange. You would then wear a pad, and if you are indeed leaking urine, your pad would turn orange. It’s a simple but effective way to test if you’re experiencing bladder leakage.