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Incontinence In Women - Why It’s More Common Than It Is For Men

Incontinence affects millions of people globally, but is experienced by women more than men. Here are four reasons why…

6 min read
Incontinence In Women - Why It’s More Common Than It Is For Men
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Incontinence In Women - Why It’s More Common Than In Men

Incontinence affects millions of people globally, but is experienced by women more than men. Here are four reasons why…

Incontinence In Women - Why It’s More Common Than In Men

Incontinence affects millions of people globally, but is experienced by women more than men. Here are four reasons why…

In the UK, it's estimated over 10 million people experience incontinence. As for who it affects, it’s mostly women.

So why is it that women are affected at a much greater rate than men and children?

Well, there are actually a number of female-exclusive factors, five of which we’re going to run you through today. So keep reading!

1. Anatomical differences

Unfortunately, incontinence can in some cases be out of a woman’s control simply because of the way her body, in particular, her urinary tract operates compared to men.

Women have a shorter urethra than men, which can increase the likelihood of urine leakage. This is because there’s less muscle (because there’s less of a urethra!) which can mean keeping urine in until a woman is ready to urinate can be more difficult - especially if there’s any damage or trauma to the urinary tract.

The urethra in women is also closer to the anus, making them more susceptible to the effects of weakened pelvic floor muscles and urinary tract infections (UTIs), both of which can lead to incontinence.

2. Hormonal changes & menopause

Yes, hormones and incontinence are linked! Hormonal changes that occur during a woman's menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can influence bladder control and contribute to incontinence.

Fluctuations in estrogen levels, especially during menopause, can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to stress incontinence. On the other hand, a decline in estrogen levels can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and causes changes in the tissues that support the bladder and urethra. As a result of this change, women often experience increased urgency, frequency, and stress incontinence - one of the types of urinary incontinence.

While not all women develop incontinence during menopause, the hormonal changes can increase their risk.

3. Pregnancy & childbirth

Did you know that 1 in 3 women who ever had a baby wet themselves? That’s a staggering statistic from the Continence Foundation of Australia.

The changes a woman’s body experiences during both pregnancy and childbirth can have long-lasting effects on her urinary system.

The growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder and can lead to stress incontinence during pregnancy. Vaginal childbirth, especially if assisted by forceps or vacuum extraction, can cause damage to the pelvic floor muscles and nerves, resulting in incontinence. The number of pregnancies and the weight of the babies can also impact the severity of incontinence symptoms.

4. Lifestyle & medical factors

Many lifestyle and medical factors can contribute to incontinence, such as obesity, chronic coughing, certain medications, neurological conditions, surgery and recovery, trauma to the pelvis, and the natural ageing process.

Smoking, alcohol consumption and diet can all impact continence and even worsen incontinence symptoms.

How can women treat incontinence?

While it can be challenging, incontinence doesn’t have to be a burden on a woman's life.

There are in fact a number of ways the condition can be treated, managed and even prevented so you can continue to live life to the fullest!

Pelvic floor exercises

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through exercises like Kegels can significantly reduce the risk of incontinence. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that control urination.

Practising these exercises on a regular basis can help improve bladder control and support the surrounding organs. We recommend seeing a pelvic physiotherapist for a tailored program suited to your individual needs, however, we do also have some recommendations on pelvic floor exercises for beginners you can try at home.

Maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight can put additional pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, leading to incontinence. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help to reduce the strain on your bladder and minimise the risk of leakage.

Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water helps to dilute urine and reduce irritation to the bladder lining.

However, be mindful of excessive fluid intake before bedtime to prevent nighttime incontinence.

Avoid bladder irritants

Certain food and drinks can irritate the bladder and worsen incontinence symptoms. Women should limit or avoid alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, and acidic beverages such as soft drinks. These sorts of food and drinks can stimulate the bladder and increase the frequency of urination.

Practice good toilet habits

Emptying the bladder regularly and completely is important to prevent urinary retention.

Women should avoid holding urine for long periods and try to urinate at regular intervals - you can refer to our 5-step guide to bladder training for support here. It is also essential to take the time to fully empty the bladder when going to the toilet.

Quit smoking

Smoking can affect incontinence as it damages the bladder. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can irritate the bladder lining and weaken the pelvic floor muscles. By quitting smoking, women can improve bladder health and reduce the risk of incontinence.

Maintain regular bowel movements

Chronic constipation can put added pressure on the bladder and increase the risk of incontinence. A high-fibre diet, regular exercise, and proper toilet habits can help maintain regular bowel movements and prevent unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor muscles.

Find the right continence management products

While all the above tips are extremely helpful in managing incontinence, day-to-day you’ll also need effective, comfortable incontinence products that you can rely on to keep you dry and prevent any leaks. That’s where we come in!

We have an extensive range of Dailee Lady incontinence pads that span from 195mL up to 1000mL absorbency and are ideal for light bladder leakage. With an innovative ultra-dry core for fast-acting absorbency and leak barriers for a last line of defence, you will feel safe and secure going about your day. They’re dermatologically tested and latex-free so you can assure they’re gentle on your skin, and their slimline fit means they’re discreet to wear. And with odour-locking technology, rest assured you’ll feel fresh between changes.

For women with a higher absorbency need, you can try our range of pull-up pants. With 1200mL and 1700mL absorbency options, these pants are designed for those with a higher level of urinary incontinence (and some faecal incontinence). The soft, latex-free material makes for a comfortable fit and the Patented Magical Tube technology allows for fast-acting absorbency for optimum dryness between changes. Although they have a higher level of absorbency, these pants don’t compromise on comfort and are an ultra-slim fit for maximum discrection.

If you want added protection and peace of mind, you can also take a look at our range of both disposable bed and furniture protectors.

If you’re not sure which incontinence product is best for your needs, don’t worry, our simple Help Me Choose quiz will suggest your best-suited products based on the answers you provide!

And if you need any extra support, don’t hesitate to contact us and speak to our incredible team of knowledgeable product specialists. We’re here to help.