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The causes of incontinence and its related issues.
What is Incontinence

Incontinence is any unintended loss of urine (even a few drops) or stool.

If you are suffering from incontinence, you are not alone. Roughly 1.5 million Canadians experience incontinence, including an estimated one in three women and one in seven men of all ages and lifestyles.  

Incontinence can affect your quality of life and result in feelings of anxiety or depression. It can cause you to avoid certain physical activities or social situations. If you have incontinence, please talk to your family doctor about it. Most incontinence can be cured or markedly improved without surgery or medications.

Types of Incontinence
  1. Stress incontinence is the loss of urine associated with increases in pressure on the abdomen (e.g. coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, and running). It can occur as a result of weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and forgetting to use these muscles to hold the urine in.

  2. Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, is the urgent need to pass urine and the inability to get to a toilet in time. It can occur after consuming foods or drinks that irritate the bladder, such as coffee or pop. Certain medications, such as water pills for high blood pressure or pain pills containing caffeine can cause urgency. It is more common with certain neurological conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. There are many possible causes and if the pelvic floor muscles are weak, then leaking with urgency is more likely.

  3. Mixed incontinence is very common when both stress and urge incontinence are present.

  4. Overflow incontinence occurs when the amount of urine produced is greater than the bladder's holding capacity. It may give the feeling of constant leaking of urine.
Causes of Incontinence

Incontinence is not a disease and although common is not a normal part of aging. It is a symptom of something else going on in the body. There are many causes of incontinence, including pelvic injuries or surgeries, neurological diseases, infections, diabetes, and changes associated with aging. Incontinence is also common during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Prolapse is very common in women, especially after having children and with aging. when the organs in the pelvis begin to lower it is a sign that their supporting tissues are weak.

  • When the uterus and cervix drop down, it is called a uterine prolapse.
  • When the bladder bulges against the front wall of the vagina, it is called a cystocele or anterior vaginal wall prolapse.
  • When the rectum presses against the back wall of the vagina, it is called a rectocele or posterior vaginal wall prolapse.
There is a lot you can do to improve the symptoms of prolapse and help prevent further dropping or bulging.
Please see your family doctor and/or make an appointment to see a physiotherapist at the Continence Clinic at BC Women's in Vancouver if you:
  • leak when you sneeze, cough, laugh, lift, bend over, stand up from sitting, run or jump
  • need to empty your bladder many times a day
  • often need to hurry to the toilet to empty your bladder
  • get up several times in the night to go to the toilet
  • wet the bed in your sleep
  • wear pads for urine or bowel leakage
  • have to change your underwear or clothes because of leaking
  • cannot completely empty your bladder when you go to the toilet
  • have a feeling of heaviness or bulging in the vagina.


For more information about incontinence and how to improve your condition through exercises and diet, contact our Clinic at BC Women's. 

Search for BC Physiotherapists treating Incontinence

For more information, including a video, visit the Women's Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Canadian Continence Foundation
(705) 750-4600
Toll free: 1-800-265-9575 FREE
Fax: (705) 750-1770

1-800-BLADDER FREE (252-3337)
Fax: 1-843-377-0905

Recommended Reading
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