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Types of Incontinence

OK, ladies. Here’s the truth. You’re not the only one out there! One in three adult women are affected by urinary incontinence or bladder leaks at some point in their lives. If it’s happening to you, one of your friends is probably going through it too. Throw out the stigma and talk about it with the girls over cocktails!

However, before you can rise above incontinence and live your best life, it helps to learn what’s at the root of your bladder leaks! To put it simply, incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. There can also be more than one reason for your bladder leaks as there are different incontinence types.

Incontinence can be caused by anything from pregnancy to menopause, strenuous physical activities or even a medical condition.

The most common types of incontinence are:

What is Stress Incontinence?

Incontinence can be stressful! Just ask your pelvic floor! Stress incontinence is caused by a weakened pelvic floor. This means the system of muscles, ligaments, and nerves that support your bladder are under a little more stress than normal.

When your pelvic floor is weakened, it’s no longer able to hold in your urine perfectly. Everyday body movements such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting heavy objects can trigger a bladder leakage. Take a break from the heavy lifting and enjoy a well-deserved time out!

Stress Incontinence Symptoms

The most common symptoms of stress incontinence include leaking urine while:

• Coughing

• Sneezing

• Laughing

• Standing up

• Lifting something heavy

• Running

• Having sex

Causes of Stress Incontinence

• Weakened pelvic floor after pregnancy

• Excess Weight

• Hormone imbalance sometimes due to menopause

• Chronic coughing

Stress Incontinence Management

Stay Hydrated on a Schedule

While drinking less water seems intuitive, it is not the best way to go about it. Instead, drink normal amounts throughout the day in order to avoid overstressing your bladder with a large amount of fluid all at once. Stay hydrated!

Get Moving

Losing some extra weight can help you with stress incontinence. A daily walk around the neighbourhood can go a long way in chipping away at the kilos and keeping your urine where it should be!

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Your pelvic floor is a system of muscles, nerves and ligaments that acts like a supportive basket for your bladder, uterus and anus. Kegel exercises involve flexing and releasing the muscles used to hold in urine, so they get stronger. If you want to stretch it out and get physical, read our complete article on pelvic floor exercises.

Bladder training

Bladder training can both lengthen the amount of time between your toilet trips and increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold.

Start by holding your urine for five minutes every time you feel the urge to go. When that starts to feel easy, try holding it for ten minutes, and gradually work your way up, strengthening your bladder muscles over time.

What is Urge Incontinence?

Feelin’ the urge a little more than you think you should be? Urge incontinence, also known as an overactive bladder, is caused by damage to the nerves in and around the bladder. As a result, the bladder no longer communicates properly to the brain when it needs to be emptied. This leads to sudden and intense urges to urinate that often don’t leave you with enough time to get to the loo, resulting in an involuntary loss of urine. The urge to urinate may come on more frequently than it would with a healthy bladder, often leading you to wake up more than once in the middle of the night to urinate. It’s time to keep the sheets dry and you dreaming!

Symptoms of Urge Incontinence

The most common symptoms of urge incontinence are:

• You have to urinate more than 8 times a day

• You wake up in the middle of the night with the feeling that you need to urinate

• Your urge to urinate comes on so strongly and suddenly that you feel like you won’t make it to the toilet

Urge Incontinence Causes

Urge Incontinence Treatments

Double Up

Pick it up flip it and reverse it! Time to double up your flow! This technique is called the 'Double Empty' method. It makes sure you have emptied all the urine from your bladder completely. After you’ve finished urinating, remain on the toilet for 30 seconds, and then urinate again.

Stay Hydrated

Not drinking enough water will make your urine more concentrated and acidic. Increased acidity in your urine will aggravate your bladder, induce more spasming, and make your symptoms worse. Carry around a water bottle with you wherever you go and take small sips of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Keep the H2O going!

Eat and Drink with Your Bladder in Mind

Put down the coffee and stick to water! Avoid foods that make your urine acidic, because acid will further irritate your bladder. This means saying no to caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks and spicy foods. Goodbye latte, hello calm bladder!

Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoke can aggravate your bladder muscles. Smoker’s cough can also trigger leaks of urine. Living a healthy lifestyle can greatly improve symptoms of an overactive bladder!

What is Overflow Incontinence?

Just like a rock in a stream, incontinence can disrupt your flow. A bladder that can’t fully empty due to an obstruction such as a tumour, polyp, or urinary stone or because of muscle weakness causes overflow incontinence. Pressure from an overly full bladder creates a constant dribble of urine, even though you may not feel the urge to go. Overflow incontinence is the only type of incontinence that is more common in men than women. Look forward to smooth sailing ahead!

Symptoms of Overflow Incontinence

The most common symptoms of overflow incontinence are:

• A sudden release of urine

• It feels hard to urinate, even though you feel like you need to

• Feeling as if your bladder is full after you urinate

• Your stream of urine stops and starts while urinating

• You wet the bed

• You are having trouble starting to urinate

• You suffer from frequent urinary tract infections

Overflow Incontinence Causes

• Bladder stones or tumours

• Conditions that affect the nerves surrounding the bladder, such as multiple sclerosis or diabetes

• Severe prolapse of the bladder or uterus

• Weakened muscles from pelvic surgery, such as a C-section

• Medications

How to Manage Overflow Incontinence


This is a common procedure where a small, thin tube is inserted through the urethra to help to drain excess urine out of the bladder.


Sometimes surgery needs to be conducted to correct any physical blockage of the bladder such as abnormal growths.


For men, medication can be used to decrease the size of the prostate to relieve pressure on the urethra. This would help the bladder empty properly and make urine flow easier.

Wearing Protection

Sometimes the loo is just too far! Wearing protection can give you peace of mind for those moments when you won’t be able to make it to the toilet on time. For bladder leaks, many women turn to period liners or pads because they are familiar and may be lying around the house. However, bladder leaks are different from periods, and period liners may not be enough.

The Always Discreet line has a range of products, including liners, pads, pads plus and underwear, each tailored to meet your unique absorbency needs. Always Discreet Liners and Pads are made just for bladder leaks so they keep you dry and fresh all day, while staying thin and comfortable. Always Discreet products have an absorbent core that neutralises odours and turns liquid into gel for superior bladder protection that keeps liquid away from your skin. Always Discreet Pads and Liners are also wrapped in feminine wrappers that are easily disposed of once used.

Feel fierce and unleash your confidence with Always Discreet.

Find out more from the Continence Foundation of Australia here.

Check out the full range of Always Discreet Underwear, Pads, Liners & Pads Plus products.

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Pelvic Floor Exercises

What is Incontinence?

Frequently Asked Questions