Only in Sweden, at least half a million people suffer from incontinence and the number of unrecognised and underdiagnosed cases are believed to be high. Even though urinary incontinence is extremely common, it is unfortunately a taboo subject where not even half of them who suffers seek care and even fewer get help and treatment. Below you can learn more about what urinary incontinence is, why you get involuntary urine leakage, common symptoms, and what help is available.
What does urinary incontinence mean?
Urinary incontinence means that a person has difficulties holding urine and leaks urine between visits to the restroom. In other words, it means that you involuntarily leak urine and wet yourself. Urine leakage can occur, for example, when coughing, laughing, jumping, doing heavy lifting or running. A common synonym word for urinary incontinence is urine leakage, but the term “incontinence” covers several different types of urine leakage, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overactive bladder, mixed incontinence and overflow incontinence.
Who is affected by incontinence?
In general, there is a correlation between incontinence and age, with older age groups more likely to experience incontinence than younger age groups. In the 75+ age group, the distribution between men and women looks quite similar. However, if you look at younger age groups, women are overrepresented. Young women also suffer from urinary incontinence, especially after giving birth. For young women, urinary leakage is three times more common than for men of the same age.
What causes incontinence?
Pregnancy and childbirth: The reason why more women than men in the younger age groups suffer from incontinence is due to hormonal and anatomical differences. During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra are stretched. After childbirth, the body recovers, but the function of the pelvic floor muscles may be affected so that their support for the urethra is not the same as before pregnancy and childbirth, which can lead to urine leakage. Read more about leakage after pregnancy and childbirth here.
Menopause: During menopause, the hormone oestrogen decreases in the body. Therefore, the connective tissue and muscles of the pelvic floor becomes weaker and less elastic. The pelvic floor is an important support for the urethra and if it becomes weaker, leakage can occur. Read more about menopause here.
General health: Another reason for incontinence can be when there is a prolonged pressure on the abdomen, such as during a longer period of coughing when suffering from COPD or asthma. People who are heavily overweight, smoke or are constipated are also more likely to experience incontinence.
You can read more about different causes of urine leakage here.
Common symptoms of urinary incontinence are:
- Leaking urine when you do something physically strenuous, such as coughing, jumping or sneezing.
- Urge incontinence: you get a sudden feeling that you have to pee.
- Peeing often, even during the night
- Leaking small drops of urine
Treatment of urine leakage
Depending on the type of incontinence you suffer from, there are different types of treatments and help available. Here we list different incontinence aids and treatments.
Pelvic floor training can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and thus help prevent urine leakage. For stress urinary incontinence, a TVT surgery may be an option. It is a slyng that is surgically inserted to support the urethra during exertion. If you are suffering from urge incontinence, bladder training can help. There are also aids such as incontinence pads.
Another option when you suffer from incontinence is Efemia Bladder Support. Designed and developed based on the same theory as the TVT surgery. It is inserted into the vagina almost like a tampon, and can be used for up to 16 hours a day. It supports the urethra to reduce leakage, allowing you to cough, laugh or run without leaking urine. It also eliminates the need for pads, which can be smelly and itchy - and is more friendly to you and the environment! Contact your GP or pelvic floor physio to get a starter kit prescribed or buy it directly here!