National Incontinence is America’s source for bladder control products.
Tips & Advice: Getting Help
- Is all incontinence the same?
- What are the causes of incontinence?
- Incontinence Statistics
- Getting Incontinence Information and Support
- Specialists Who Can Treat Incontinence
- 5 Common Incontinence Myths
- Why You Should See a Doctor for Incontinence
- Talking To Your Doctor
- Incontinence Products Going Mainstream
- Home Delivery Products
- Incontinence Resources & Links
Is all incontinence the same?
Urinary incontinence, or the inability to control one’s bladder, is a frustrating problem that affects more than 25 million American adults. Incontinence is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying cause. Your doctor should be the first line of defense in treating the loss of bladder control. Below are the most common types of incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence: This occurs during physical activity that can put pressure on the bladder. It often affects younger women, especially after childbirth. This means that lifting weights, running, sneezing, coughing, and something as simple as laughing can lead to an embarrassing leak. Along with urge incontinence, stress incontinence is the most common type of incontinence.
- Urge Incontinence: When you've got a sudden urge to go, you can be experiencing urge incontinence or have an overactive bladder. For some people, even listening to the sound of water can trigger the bladder to release urine.
- Overflow Incontinence: Sometimes your bladder gets too full to the point where it can't keep urine from leaking.
- Functional Incontinence: Those who are limited in mobility can experience functional incontinence. There's nothing wrong with their bladder, but they experience urinary leakage because they can't get to the bathroom in time. This can happen for individuals using a wheelchair or suffering from a mental disease such as Alzheimer's or dementia.
- Mixed Incontinence: You can suffer from more than one type of incontinence - usually, it's stress and urge incontinence.
- Fecal Incontinence: This is when you involuntarily have a bowel movement.
What are the causes of incontinence?
Before you try out any treatments on your own, it's important to seek professional medical help. Incontinence is a symptom (NOT a disease!) that usually stems from an underlying condition. You could be experiencing bladder leakage due to:
- vaginal birth, pregnancy, uterine prolapse
- prostate surgery, enlarged prostate (BPH), prostate gland problems
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- weakened pelvic floor muscles
- spinal cord injuries
- certain foods, drinks, medications
- lack of mobility
Learn about the impact and prevalence of incontinence on millions of adults in the United States and worldwide. Statistics are gathered from the National Association for Continence (NAFC).
- Urinary incontinence affects 25 million American adults and 200 million adults worldwide.
- More than half of all residents in nursing homes suffer from incontinence.
- Stress incontinence affects approximately 15 million U.S. adult women.
- An estimated 10-25% of patients will still experience bladder control issues after undergoing radical prostatectomy surgery, or prostate cancer surgery.
- Urinary incontinence is a common risk factor for falling, and in people ages 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death.
- Women wait an average of 6.5 years before seeking professional help for their incontinence problems.
- Approximately 2-3% of adults continued bedwetting since birth.
- One in 12 Americans, or approximately 18 million people, was estimated to have fecal incontinence, or the inability to manage bowel control. This statistic ranges from 3% in individuals 20-29 years old to 15% among adults 70 and older, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- One in five adults over 40 years old have an overactive bladder, experiencing recurrent symptoms of sudden urges and frequent urination.
Getting Incontinence Information and Support
Incontinence can be troubling, confusing, and embarrassing. However, it’s important to understand that you're not alone as incontinence affects more than 25 million adults in the U.S. Incontinence can be a highly emotional issue, so it helps to discuss and share with others who can relate. Online incontinence support groups, such as at Daily Strength and the National Association for Continence (NAFC), offer a community of people who understand your problem first-hand. No matter your gender or the cause or severity of your bladder control problems, there's a community of people out there who understand your problem first-hand. Researching, inquiring, joining, and learning are great ways to help everyone involved understand and manage incontinence.
Knowing where to get incontinence products is also an important part of maintaining good physical and emotional health, as they allow you to assert some degree of control over bladder or bowel issues and help preserve privacy and dignity. National Incontinence has a full line of incontinence supplies designed to accommodate both men and women with varying degrees of incontinence.
Specialists Who Can Treat Incontinence
If you start to experience symptoms of incontinence, it's important to consult your primary care physician. Remember, incontinence is a symptom, not a disease. Depending on the cause of your incontinence, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who's trained to treat the problem. The medical field is very specialized, so all of the different terms and titles can be confusing. Here's a quick guide to terms you might hear during your trip to the doctor's:
- Urologist: Trained to treat problems of the male and female urinary tracts and the male reproductive organs. They can also perform surgery.
- Urogynecologist: A urologist or OB/GYN who specializes in treating women who have pelvic floor dysfunction, such as prolapse or unresolved incontinence.
- Gastroenterologist: Trained to treat diseases of the digestive tract, including those that result in fecal incontinence.
When discussing incontinence with any healthcare provider, it's very important to be honest about all of your symptoms in order to receive the most effective advice and treatment. It helps to keep track of your symptoms in a journal right when they appear; that way, when you visit your healthcare provider, he or she will be able to see exactly when the problem started, how and at what rate it got worse or better, etc.
5 Common Incontinence Myths
- Incontinence is just a normal part of aging. You are not destined to have urine leakage once you reach a certain age. Your pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened just like your biceps or quadriceps.
- Childbirth caused irreversible problems "down there." While women often do experience a loss of bladder control after pregnancy, it's usually temporary and can be resolved using kegel exercises. Your doctor can help you find effective treatments so you can regain the control that you once had.
- Prostate cancer surgery leaves most men incontinent. Some men experience temporary incontinence after prostate surgery but medical treatments can improve the outcome.
- You just have to live with it. In most cases, urinary incontinence can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Treatment can consist of behavioral therapies (ie. timed voiding), medications or in a few cases, surgery.
- The best solution is to just use a sanitary napkin in my underwear every day. If you find that you need daily protection, it is healthiest to use incontinence pads specially designed to collect and hold urine.
Why You Should See Your Doctor for Incontinence
Although urinary incontinence is common, bladder leakage is not normal. If you ever experience any bladder problems, such as trouble urinating or leaking urine, it’s important to contact professional help. Since incontinence is a symptom of an underlying cause, you want to rule out any diseases or infections that can cause more significant problems down the road. Incontinence treatment may be as simple as changing your diet, so there should be no reason why you have to suffer in silence and let incontinence stop you from doing what you want to do.
Incontinence can also adversely affect all aspects of your life from work to school to your personal life. You might withdraw from social outings because you feel embarrassed and think that others may ridicule you. You might even give up your favorite activities such as playing soccer or going horseback riding because you’re afraid of having an unexpected leak. Whether it be pelvic floor exercises, bladder retraining, medication, or dietary changes, your doctor can help you find ways to regain bladder control and improve your quality of life.
Talking To Your Doctor
People tend to have difficulties talking about certain things, and discussing bladder control issues might be number one on the taboo topic list for some. If you're experiencing urinary incontinence (UI), it's important to let your healthcare provider know. When discussing the issue with him or her, be prepared to talk openly in order to get the proper diagnosis and most effective treatment. Start by gathering information your healthcare provider may need in order to open the lines of communication.
First, make a list of your incontinence symptoms: difficulty starting to urinate, weak stream, dribbling or leakage, feeling like your bladder isn't emptying completely... the list could go on, but it's very important to include anything and everything you're experiencing. Over a few days, record your urination habits. For example, keep track of how many times you woke up during the night to go to the bathroom, or how many times you felt the urge to urinate and then couldn't. Definitely take note if you've experienced any bleeding or pain while urinating and mention any recent stomach, rib, or back pain. Finally, be honest about whether your urinary symptoms are interfering with your lifestyle.
If you've already started using absorbent undergarments to manage your problem, use them as a sort of gauge. Let your doctor know how much liquid is being captured and how well the absorbency level you're using works. The more information you provide, the better your treatment plan will be.
Incontinence Products Going Mainstream
Incontinence is an embarrassing condition that is often associated with a strong social stigma. That’s why manufacturers are enhancing their incontinence products to make consumers feel more confident in purchasing products to help manage bladder control. Nowadays, people can choose gender-specific products that will cater to the specific needs of their body. Incontinence briefs or underwear now look and feel more like real underwear and come in discreet packaging with transparent windows, just like regular underwear.
Marketing tactics have changed as well. For example, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which owns popular incontinence brands, such as Depend and Poise, featured actresses and NFL players in its commercials. This showed people that they shouldn't be embarrassed about incontinence, as the condition affects millions of others, including celebrities.
As marketing campaigns work to erase the stigma associated with incontinence, using absorbent products will become more acceptable and less shameful. So if you’re experiencing bladder control problems, keep in mind that, with the wide selection of incontinence products available, you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Home Delivery Products
To maintain a person’s dignity and privacy, opt to shop for incontinence supplies online rather than in stores. Online suppliers also carry a larger selection of protective products than the local grocery or pharmacy stores, so customers can choose from a wide variety of adult diapers, incontinence pads, and mattress protectors for all their needs.
At National Incontinence, we offer an AutoShip plan because we understand the importance of having your products on hand at all times. You can choose to have your favorite incontinence products delivered every month, two months, or whatever interval you want. The AutoShip plan also comes with discounts and savings with each purchase. Most boxes sent to you will be discreetly marked “NI”, while some boxes may indicate the product name. Contact our customer service team at 1-800-998-1745 to find out how you can purchase the products you need while preserving your dignity.
Incontinence Resources & Links
Support Groups and Forums:
- Bedwetting Forum - Topix
- Bedwetting - SupportGroups.com
- Yahoo! Group
- American Kidney Fund
- American Urological Association Foundation (AUA) or Urology Health
- International Painful Bladder Foundation
- National Association for Continence (NAFC)
- National Kidney Foundation
- The Simon Foundation for Continence
- Us Too! International, Inc. (Prostate Cancer Survivors)
- Women's Health Foundation (Women's Pelvic Health and Wellness)