Myths and Facts about Incontinence

Female Incontinence

By: Jessica Pollice, Registered Physiotherapist, Orthopedic and Pelvic Health

Urinary incontinence is a highly prevalent condition. It is estimated that 3.3 million (10%) Canadians suffer from urinary incontinence. The challenge is that many people do not feel comfortable talking to their family physician or health care provider about incontinence.

There are 3 categories of incontinence:

1. Stress Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine associated with activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping, lifting, etc. 

2. Urge Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine immediately after or associated with a sudden desire to void. 

3. Mixed Incontinence is a combination of urge incontinence and stress incontinence. 

Women suffer from incontinence at a higher prevalence than men. One of the main culprits – child birth. The internal organs and pelvic floor muscles become stretched during the delivery, as the baby is pushed through the birthing canal.

Other potential causes of incontinence can be chronic coughing, sneezing, weight lifting, constipation and an increase in body mass that can increase the pressure within the pelvic region. In addition, a decrease in hormone levels during and after menopause can also contribute and worsen the symptoms! 

Common Myths about Urinary Incontinence:

1. Urinary incontinence is a normal part of aging.

     False. While the prevalence of urinary incontinence increases with age, it should not be considered a normal or unavoidable part of aging. Woman of all ages can suffer with urinary incontinence. 

2. Urinary incontinence can be improved by drinking less fluid.

     False. It is important to keep the body hydrated and drinking adequate amounts of fluid to allow the urine to be diluted and to maintain a normal bladder volume. Not drinking enough water can increase the concentration of the urine, which can irritate the bladder and make the problem worse. 

3. My incontinence will get better on its own or it won’t get worse 

     False. Over time, women with incontinence report their symptoms get worse. Unfortunately, the symptoms will not get better on their own, unless appropriate measures are taken!

4.  Nothing can be done to treat urinary incontinence 

     False.  Pelvic floor physiotherapy exercises help 80% of women who suffer from stress incontinence. Internal exams are considered the gold standard for ensuring the exercises are performed properly. 

What can I do to get better?

  • It is important to continue to stay active with regular exercise or sporting activities. Physical activity can help to keep the muscles strong, keeping our bodies healthy, and fit.

  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the water to keep the urine less concentrated.

  • Learning to active the pelvic floor muscles prior to sneezing, coughing or lifting objects to reduce/prevent incontinence.

  • Activating and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with exercises given by a pelvic floor Physiotherapist.

Interested in Pelvic Health Physiotherapy? Click here to book in with a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 519-208-0333.