The Truth About Incontinence

What You Need to Know, if You Frequently Have to Go

Incontinence is the inability to control one’s bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowels (fecal incontinence). What you might be surprised to learn, is that more than 25 million American adults suffer from it. So, if you feel like you’ve been going frequently or struggling to get to a restroom in time, know that you’re not alone.

Because incontinence can be so frustrating, it’s tempting to think of it as a disease. In reality, it’s generally a symptom of some other underlying problem. So, before you start Googling cures or other quick fixes, see talk to your doctor to talk about what the cause could be.


  • It’s worth repeating here, incontinence affects 25 million American adults and 200 million adults worldwide.
  • Women are 4 -5 times more likely than men to suffer from urinary incontinence yet often wait years before reporting this problem to their doctor.
  • More than half of all residents in nursing homes suffer from incontinence.
  • 10-25% of patients will have trouble controlling their bladders after surgery concerning the prostate.
  • A small number of adults (about 2-3%) have been bedwetting since they were born.
  • One in five adults over 40 has an overactive bladder which contributes to incontinence.
  • Despite the high success rates in treating incontinence, just 1 in 12 people affected seeks help. 



    Stress Incontinence

    Some physical activities put pressure on the bladder, causing incontinence. This can include everyday activities like lifting weight or running but also events like childbirth. This may be especially true if you have weak pelvic floor muscles. The good news: pelvic floor muscles can get stronger with exercise.

    Urge Incontinence

    If you often get the sudden urge to run to the bathroom, this is what’s often called urge incontinence. You may even have an overactive bladder which causes bladder muscles to spasm. This is the second most common type after stress incontinence.  You may also have a combination of stress and urge incontinence; this is called “mixed incontinence”.

    Overflow Incontinence

    Sometimes your bladder simply gets too full to the point where you just can’t hold it anymore. Like ever parent tells their distracted child, if you have the option, it’s best to go when your body tells you to.  Or, you don’t completely empty your bladder when voiding leaving you to think you have more room to hold more urine than you actually do.

    Functional Incontinence

    If you have limited mobility, then functional incontinence could be an issue. Your bladder may be working just fine, but you’re still going to you still have trouble getting to the bathroom in time. This may happen to people who are wheelchair-bound or suffer from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, ALS, blindness and more.

    Fecal Incontinence

    Fecal incontinence (or bowel incontinence) is the lack of control over bowel movements.  This can range from mild or occasional leakage to more serious event leading to the unexpected release of feces.  Stools may be loose and watery or more formed which can impact which products may be right for you.


    • Incontinence is just a part of aging. Normal? Sure. Bladder muscles weaken like all other muscle groups do.  But there are also still solutions to the problem regardless of your age. 
    • Childbirth causes irreversible incontinence. While women often experience loss of bladder control after pregnancy, it's usually temporary/gets better over time and can be treated.
    • Prostate cancer surgery leaves most men incontinent.  Some men experience temporary incontinence after prostate surgery but medical treatments can still make a difference.
    • You can just apply a sanitary napkin for menstruation to your underwear every day. If incontinence is a daily problem, it’s wiser to use incontinence products specifically designed to collect and hold urine. Whether it’s adult diapers, protective underwear, bladder control pads or underpads, Rely Medical Supply has the products you need to help you manage your incontinence.
    • It’s just something you have to live with. Don’t believe anyone who tells you this. Incontinence can be helped, treated and maybe even stopped entirely. Don’t be one of the 11 in 12 people who refuse to seek medical help.


    As frustrating and personal as these symptoms may be, it is important to talk to your doctor about potential remedies.  Remember, incontinence is a symptom, not a disease, and you’ll do more to protect your health by learning what underlying problem may be causing it.