Incontinence: More common than you might think…

The NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK may suffer from some form of urinary incontinence[1]. It’s a condition that affects both men and women, young and old, yet many people keep it secret for years before asking for help. Boots Staydry are on a mission to break the taboo and to help anyone who may be suffering in silence.

What is incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine, and it’s a lot more common than people realise. The chances of developing the condition can be increased by a number of factors, including pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, a family history of the condition and the ageing process.[2] However, incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging and there are plenty of things you can do at home to help manage your symptoms.

It’s also important to note that incontinence can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. If you have any concerns about any type of incontinence or your symptoms, seek medical advice. Click here for advice on seeking help.

What causes incontinence, and what are the symptoms?

This all depends on what type of incontinence you have. The 3 main types are below[3]:

Stress Incontinence - this is the most common type of incontinence in women[4], often brought on by pregnancy and the menopause. It is less common in men, but may occur after prostate surgery. It can be caused by a weak pelvic floor muscles, resulting in small leakages when your bladder is under pressure, for example when coughing, sneezing, laughing or during exercise.

Urge Incontinence – also known as overactive bladder, this type of incontinence is caused by the bladder muscles contracting too often. Leakages occur alongside a sudden, intense, uncontrollable urge to pass urine. This can be made worse by drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, not drinking enough of other fluids or urinary tract infections.

Overflow Incontinence – also known as chronic urinary retention. Here, the bladder doesn’t completely empty when passing urine. It can be caused by an obstruction of the bladder, such as urinary stones or an enlarged prostate in men. If you have overflow incontinence, you may pass small trickles of urine very often. It may also feel as though your bladder is never fully empty.

Myth or fact? Common incontinence misconceptions

Despite being a very common condition, there are many myths surrounding incontinence that we wanted to clear up with the help of Adult Continence Specialist Nurse, Joanne Spence. Click on the podcast below to listen to our myth or fact interview with Joanne.

What can I do at home?

Nurse Joanne gives us her top 5 tips on what you can do at home to help improve your symptoms:

  1. Drink lots of water – aim to drink approx. 1.5L – 2L (about 3 pints) fluids at regular intervals throughout the day. Reducing your fluid intake won’t necessarily reduce the amount you pee. In fact, if you drink less, your urine becomes more concentrated, which can irritate the lining of the bladder and make you feel like you need to go more often.
  2. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol – caffeinated fluids like tea, coffee and fizzy drinks will irritate the bladder, better choices include water and diluted drinks.
  3. Do your pelvic floor exercises – these exercises are a great way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder and can help you regain control. There are lots of sources of advice on pelvic floor exercises, from apps and websites to specialist continence nurses and women’s physiotherapists. For more information, click here.
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Keeping active, eating a healthy balanced diet and quitting smoking will all help reduce the amount of pressure you put on your bladder. If you do all of these things, it can help improve the health of your bladder.
  5. Choose the right product for you – There are a number of different products out there that offer different levels of protection, and it is important to select the right product that suits your individual needs. If you need help on choosing the right product for you, the friendly experts at the Boots Staydry careline are on hand to help.


For help finding the right product, or for incontinence advice for both users and carers, please call the Boots Staydry careline on 0800 0723 899, or visit www.boots.com to shop the full range or find us on twitter @BootsUK. 


[1] NHS Inform – Urinary Incontinence https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/kidneys-bladder-and-prostate/urinary-incontinence Accessed 27 September 2017

[2] Attends Resource Pack – A guide to promoting excellence in continence care https://learning.attends.co.uk/#/access/signin Accessed 16 November 2017

[3] NHS Choices – Urinary Incontinence https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/  Accessed 16 November 2017

[4] Lipp et al 2014 Mechanical devices for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 12. Art No CD001756

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