The different types of incontinence

The different types of incontinence

Did you know that there are different types of urinary incontinence? And that you need to know one from another to deal with it?

Urinary incontinence is very common, with as many as 1 in 3 women having a problem with it at some point in their lives. There are several different types – stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence. Some women have a mixture of more than one type too. This is called mixed urinary incontinence.

The causes of incontinence

There are a number of things which weaken our pelvic floor muscles, including age, pregnancy, childbirth, hormonal changes like the menopause, heavy lifting and gynaecological surgery.

Stress incontinence

If you find you that laughing hard, coughing, sneezing or physical activity can cause you to have little ‘accidents’, then you’re suffering from stress incontinence.

You’re not alone either. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 women over the age of thirty-five suffer from stress incontinence and it’s particularly common in women who’ve given birth. Interestingly your first birth is the most significant here – if you get through that without any problems, chances are you won’t have any after subsequent births.

One of the most useful things you can do for stress incontinence is exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

Urge incontinence

If you find yourself going to the loo very frequently, maybe even including during the night and you find you can’t always make it there in time, you might be suffering from urge incontinence.

This affects up to 1 in 5 women and you more likely to suffer from it as you get older.

Overflow incontinence

You may have overflow incontinence if you tend to experience leaks when you have a full bladder.


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This type of incontinence is often accompanied by other symptoms – such as difficulty starting to urinate or the inability to urinate properly.

Overflow incontinence can be caused by a prolapse of the bladder or the uterus.

Mixed urinary incontinence

As the name suggests, this is when you have a combination of more than one type of incontinence.

Getting the help you need to deal with incontinence

Whatever type of incontinence you have, it’s important you see your doctor so that they can make sure you get the treatment you need.

Wearing the right protection can be a huge help too, and the Always Discreet range has something for every imaginable need, from liners to pads to underwear.

Advice on incontinence

Incontinence is something that affects a great many of us during the course of our lifetime. This means there’s lots of great advice out there. You might want to check out our expert advice on minimising the effects of incontinence on everyday life, for example. Or read up on how to talk to your partner about a sensitive bladder.

Let us know what you think

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I suffer from lymphoedema in my legs and am on 3 different types of water tablets and also wear full length compression stockings to try to prevent my legs swelling and getting so heavy and painful. I get the sudden urge to urinate and can't hold it back which can be very embarrassing when I am out and can't access a loo. On top of that I am disabled and in a wheelchair so loo's are not always accessible for me. I don't know how I would cope without Always pads.

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I find this really interesting. When I was pregnant with my first I didn't suffer with stress incontinence but urge. I felt the urge every 5mins (When at work I timed it as I sat in front of a computer) I just wish I knew about these products 5 yrs ago! I've had my second and now and didn't suffer with that problem again, just suffer from stress incontinence although pelvic exercise and Always I've got it covered.

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I have urinary retention due to disc/nerve problems coming from my back. After having four kids, I expected to have leakage as I got older and it was something I had dreaded due to this irrational fear I have always closely followed the evolution of these products, I know friends who do have incontinence and they find these products indispensable. Thank you is all I can say, while I'll never need them, it's good to know women, my friends and family don't have to be embarrassed by this anymore.

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