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Urinary incontinence

What is incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine

How does this come about?

There are two basic conditions for continence: first, the ability to retain urine in the body without leakage over a number of hours; and second, the ability to delay expulsion long enough, when there is an urge to urinate, until the time and place are appropriate.

If one of these conditions is not met, it may result in an involuntary leakage of urine, or what is known as urinary incontinence. It takes several months - even years in some cases - until children are fully dry. Children who continue to wet themselves after starting school should be examined by a doctor. If a person has enjoyed many years of continence after learning bladder control as a child, the experience of an involuntary leakage of urine as an adult can be a serious matter. Urinary incontinence has a huge impact on a person’s self-worth and quality of life; any involuntary leakage of urine is extremely unpleasant and awkward for the person concerned. Although it is far more widespread than assumed, incontinence is largely a taboo subject.

An involuntary leakage of urine should never be treated lightly. Instead, it should be seen as a symptom of a disrupted bodily function. The frequency and risk of incontinence increase with age; more women are affected than men. In principle, there are two possible causes of incontinence: a disorder of the bladder or a weakness of the closure mechanism. In some instances, both causes exist in parallel. An involuntary loss of urine is a serious occurrence for the people concerned. Nevertheless, they often put off seeking a doctor's advice for ages. And yet in most cases, it is possible to treat incontinence effectively and hence to restore the patient's quality of life, get up and go, and sense of self-worth.

Doctors recognise various different forms of urinary incontinence. The three most frequent of these are stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and mixed urge and stress incontinence.