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Continence Page Contents


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What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of control over urine or faeces and can harm the physical and emotional well-being of those affected. Find specific bladder continence advice for men, bladder continence advice for women and bowel continence advice.

What is the difference between continence and incontinence?

Continence means the ability to hold back bodily functions from the bowel or bladder. Incontinence is an inability to hold back bodily functions from the bowel or bladder.

What causes urinary incontinence?

There are many causes of incontinence, including a weak pelvic floor and underlying long-term health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.

Types of urinary incontinence

There are four main types of urinary incontinence:

  • Urgency incontinence
  • Stress incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence
  • Functional incontinence

What causes bladder incontinence?

Urgency incontinence

An overactive bladder where the muscles contract too often creating an urgent need to urinate.

Stress incontinence

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is usually a result of weakened pelvic floor muscles.

Overflow incontinence

Overflow incontinence is the result of an inability to empty the bladder.

Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence is caused by obstructive conditions, such as an enlarged prostate.

What causes bowel incontinence?

There are different reasons why you might experience bowel incontinence. These may include severe or long-lasting constipation or diarrhoea, Irritable Bowel Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, damage to the nerves or muscles during surgery or childbirth, or long-term conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Dementia, or due to an accident or trauma.