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Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine. It is a common problem and is thought to affect millions of people worldwide.

The symptoms of urinary incontinence depend on the type you have.

Stress incontinence – when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure, for example when you cough or laugh – is usually the result of the weakening or damaging of the muscles used to prevent urination, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter.

Urge incontinence – when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards – is usually the result of over activity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder. Certain things can increase the chances of urinary incontinence developing, including pregnancy and vaginal birth, obesity, a family history of incontinence, increasing age – although incontinence is not an inevitable part of ageing.

It is also possible to have a mixture of both stress and urge urinary incontinence.

To help prevent UI, controlling your weight, avoiding or cutting down on caffeine and alcohol and keeping fit, in particular, ensuring that your pelvic floor muscles are strong can all help to prevent UI from occurring.

In a large postpartum study of prevalence for urinary incontinence , found that 45% of women experienced UI at 7 years postpartum and that 27% who were initially incontinent in the early postpartum period regained their continence, while 31% who were continent became incontinent.

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