Why Does Incontinence Impact So Many Women?

incontinence: purple portacabin toilets.

Urinary incontinence can affect everyone, but it tends to be more common in women. In fact, twice as many women have incontinence than men. There are a few reasons as to why this is.

Types Of Incontinence

One of the critical things in dealing with urinary incontinence is finding the right products, and a reliable supplier, like HARTMANN Direct. Identifying the type of incontinence can impact which products are, or are not suitable for you. There isn’t one single type of urinary incontinence, there’s actually four.

  • Overflow Incontinence – overflow incontinence can be caused by a blockage, or by poor bladder contraction. This means that the bladder doesn’t fully empty during urination, and can dribble in between times.
  • Functional Incontinence – functional incontinence can be caused by medication or other health problems that make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time.
  • Urge Incontinence – urge incontinence can be due to an overactive bladder. There is often a sudden sense of urgency to go to the bathroom, followed by an involuntary leakage.
  • Stress Incontinence – this can be caused by a failure of the bladder to close properly. This is most often caused by weakened muscles. There can be urine leakage when coughing, sneezing or laughing.

Generally speaking, most women have a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Why Women Experience Incontinence

A simple explanation of why more women experience incontinence than men do is because women have more unique health events. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause all affect the body in different ways.


A woman’s body changes in pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby. In the first few months, many women experience a need to urinate more frequently. Towards the end of the pregnancy, they can feel a pressure on their bladder, and a decreased bladder capacity. The type most commonly experienced during pregnancy is stress. In some cases, normal function is returned after the pregnancy, whereas others may continue for a period of time after pregnancy.


Childbirth can also cause, or exacerbate incontinence. Labour and childbirth cause more changes to a woman’s body. More specifically, it can weaken the pelvic floor muscles as the stretch to allow the baby to be born. Also, the bladder and the urethra move during the pregnancy, which can cause problems. It may take some time for the bladder and urethra to move back into the regular position.

Every experience of childbirth is different. Some are relatively easy, with little to no complications, but others are more complex. One method of dealing with a complex birth is for the doctors to perform an episiotomy. This is when a cut is made in the pelvic floor, which allows for easier delivery, but it also weakens the pelvic floor, which can then lead to incontinence issues.


Menopause is when the body stops producing oestrogen. This is a hormone that begins to be released in puberty and is needed for pregnancy. When a woman’s body stops producing this hormone, the body goes through many changes. The woman may experience hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. However, there can be other changes in the body as well. The pelvic floor muscles can weaken. The muscles in the vagina loses its elasticity, and the lining of the urethra begins to thin. All of these changes can have an impact on bladder control and function, causing urinary incontinence.

Other Factors

There are a number of other factors that can contribute to incontinence in women. For one thing, women who are involved in high impact sports can experience urinary incontinence. Around 20% of female college athletes have reported experiencing urine leakage during sports, or afterwards. This seems to be more common in sports such as gymnastics, or parachuting. As the body hits the ground with force, it weakens the pelvic floor muscle.

There is also some evidence that some women may be genetically predisposed to weakening pelvic floor muscles. This means that the pelvic muscles have a limited ability, and strength, and when this limit has been reached, the woman can become affected.

Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and the other factors involved does not mean that it isn’t treatable. There are a number of treatments, and methods to cope with the problem. Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, are often recommended for women. These exercises are designed to help strengthen the muscles, and people have reported marked improvement after performing them over a period of time.

Weakening of pelvic floor muscles not only causes urinary leakage but can also negatively affect sexual intimacy with your partner and make sex painful for women. Fortunately, there are pelvic floor therapies combined with medical devices like vaginal trainers or dilators to help restore the vaginal opening and strengthen pelvic muscles. 

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