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Overview of Urinary Incontinence

02 August 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 8


Urinary incontinence is a common condition, which affects approximately 300 million people globally. In the UK alone, over 7 million people are affected by this condition. There are various physiological factors that contribute to incontinence, such as a weak bladder, weak pelvic floor muscles, overactive bladder muscles, merve damage from muscle sclerosis, diabetes—to name a few.

In this article, the author discusses how urinary incontinence can be managed in men and women, alongside mental health considerations.

Urinary incontinence affects approximately 300 million people globally—a number so high that it forms 5% of the entire global population (Incontinence UK, 2022). Incontinence UK (2022) states that at least 7 million people in the UK are living with urinary incontinence—around 5–10% percent of its population. The number may, of course, be much higher, given the stigma that prevents people from actively seeking help for the condition.

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) (2023) explains that the bladder tightens in order to move urine into the urethra while the muscles surrounding it relax to allow the urine to pass out of the body. If the muscles are not working, urine may leak and incontinence may become an issue. There are various reasons for this complex problem to occur: urinary tract infections, vaginal irritation and constipation (in the short term) (NIH, 2023). However, the problem is often for the longer-term. Where the issue does not resolve, the underlying physiology may indicate a weak bladder or weak pelvic floor muscles, overactive bladder muscles, nerve damage from multiple sclerosis, diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, arthritis (due to mobility issues) and pelvic organ prolapse. In men, the most common issue is prostatitis, causing inflammation of the prostate gland, enlarged prostate gland leading to benign prostate hyperplasia, or male urinary incontinence, which may also be caused by damage or injury to nerves or muscles from surgery (NIH, 2023).

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