Does Parkinson’s Cause Incontinence?

Parkinson’s Disease affects the nervous system, causing issues with movement and motor skills. But did you know it can also affect the bladder and bowel?

Does Parkinson’s Cause Incontinence?

Parkinson’s Disease affects the nervous system, causing issues with movement and motor skills. But did you know it can also affect the bladder and bowel?

Cut-out paper head
Computer generated image of a neuron within the brain

Parkinson's Disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects the nervous system and causes movement and motor issues like tremors or shaking, muscle stiffness and impaired balance.

Parkinson’s Disease affects approximately 10 million people worldwide [1], and unfortunately, there is no known cure - however, research is still ongoing and there are a number of medications that help manage and alleviate symptoms.

While it’s mostly known for motor and movement challenges, there are also a lot of non-movement symptoms that people with the condition experience. This can include mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, but also bladder and bowel problems including urinary incontinence and constipation.

Keep reading to learn more about Parkinson’s Disease and how it can cause bladder and bowel issues such as incontinence.

Doctor looking at brain scans

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

As mentioned above, Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative condition affecting the nervous system, where nerve cells (called neurons) carrying dopamine in the substantia nigra area of the brain become impaired or die [2].

This area of the brain is responsible for the production of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter for the central nervous system as it is required in controlling movement and executive functions [3]. So, when the neurons in this region become impaired or die, it in turn results in reduced dopamine levels and causes impaired movement and motor function. 

Symptoms tend to develop slowly and gradually over time, can be motor (related to movement) or non-motor, and vary from person to person. It can be hard to tell if you or a loved one has Parkinson’s, however, the Parkinson’s Foundation has listed ten signs that might indicate the disease - and if you have more than one, it’s recommended to see a doctor.

The exact causes of Parkinson’s Disease are still unknown, but it’s thought that a combination of genetics and environmental factors impact the likelihood of an individual developing the condition.

If you are concerned that either yourself or a loved one may be experiencing signs or symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, we encourage you to make an appointment with your GP to discuss them. There is no singular test for Parkinson’s, and it can only be diagnosed by a neurologist.

Man getting assistance from doctor in order to stand

How is Parkinson’s Treated?

There are a range of treatment options that are used to assist those with the condition to manage symptoms and maintain their quality of life. This can include physiotherapy, medication and, for some people, surgery.

Most individuals will require medication to help with motor symptoms. These medications work by increasing the levels of dopamine available in the brain, however, they can become less effective over time as more neurons become impaired or die.

A type of surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) may also be used to reduce the severity of motor symptoms, but this isn’t suitable for everyone. Your treating health professionals will be able to advise if surgery should be considered as well as the risks and benefits.

A model of the intestines

Does Parkinson’s Disease Cause Incontinence?

Bladder and bowel dysfunctions are common non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease:


Bladder dysfunction is estimated to affect between 55-80% of people with Parkinson’s Disease [4].

The most common urinary symptoms are those of an overactive bladder (OAB), which include:

  • Needing to urinate frequently

  • Urinary urgency, or the inability to ‘hold on’ once the need to wee arises

This can disrupt sleep patterns, as the increased urge can be very noticeable at night. Some people with Parkinson’s and urinary issues also experience trouble with fully emptying the bladder, as emptying requires a combination of pelvic muscles, including the urinary sphincter, to relax. Parkinson's causes stiffness, rigidity and involuntary muscle tightening, which contributes to trouble emptying the bladder.


Constipation is one of the earliest non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease [5], with an estimated 24.6% to 63% of those diagnosed experiencing constipation.

There are a few ways that the condition causes constipation:

  • Slower bowel muscle movement

  • Medications to treat Parkinson’s can impact the bowel

  • Difficulties with chewing and swallowing can affect diet and water intake

  • Difficulties with motion and moving can lead to decreased exercise which can impact bowel activity

Chronic and severe constipation can not only cause discomfort, nausea and lethargy but can contribute to urinary issues of frequency, urgency and/or incomplete emptying. It may seem strange, but you can also be constipated and have diarrhoea at the same time, as the loose stool is caused by the hard stool irritating the bowel.

A spread of fibre rich foods, fruit and vegetables

How to Manage Parkinson’s and Incontinence

If you or the person you care for is experiencing bladder or bowel problems (or both) due to Parkinson’s Disease, there are some simple things you can do to help regain confidence and maintain comfort: 

  • Discuss it with your doctor
    While it can be a difficult topic to discuss, it’s essential that you mention any urinary or bowel incontinence with your doctor or treating health professional as they can make recommendations tailored to you based on your symptoms as well as taking into account any prescribed medications or treatment interventions for Parkinson’s. They’re also able to make any referrals to specialists (like urologists) that may be required.

  • Wear quality incontinence aids
    Mobility issues due to Parkinson’s Disease may make it more difficult to get to the bathroom on time, so it’s important to use quality incontinence aids such as those in our range to keep you protected from any accidents or unwanted leakage.

    For those who care for someone with incontinence, we recommend our range of Dailee Slips for their high absorbency capacity and ease of changing.

  • Use bed and furniture protectors
    Bed and furniture protectors offer extra protection to give you extra peace of mind, so you can travel or sleep soundly without worrying about any leaks or stains. We carry disposable and washable options, too, so you can choose which works best for your needs.

  • Stay hydrated
    Dehydration contributes to constipation and irritating the bladder, which can worsen any urinary incontinence symptoms you might be experiencing. That’s why it’s important to stay adequately hydrated by drinking up to 2L of fluid (preferably water) per day.

  • Up your fibre intake
    Fibre can help with constipation, so it’s important to ensure you’re consuming enough to keep your bowel movements healthy and regular. Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants, so be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds as well as bread, pasta, rice and other cereals.


Slimline underwear protection for small leaks or full voids


Comfortable pull-up pants with superior absorbency technology


Very high absorbency all-in-one slips for urinary and faecal incontinence

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