Incontinence in women

Bladder and Bowel control problems are treatable conditions and symptoms are manageable. Contrary to preconceptions neither of these pathologies is a normal part of aging or a consequence of giving birth. It is a medical condition for which it is important to seek medical advice.

Did you know?

142 millions of adults suffer from urinary incontinence in Europe1,2
27 million adults suffer from fecal incontinence3,4


What is urinary incontinence?5

Urinary incontinence is any involuntary or unwanted loss of urine. People use the bathroom very frequently and may leak urine.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI)6

Characterised by an involuntary loss of urine during effort: lifting heavy things, laughing, coughing, sneezing or doing exercise.

During these kind of activities, the pressure on the bladder increases and the urethra or urinary sphincter can't resist the pressure and will leak urine.

Overactive bladder (AOB)7

Characterised by an increased pressure or abnormal contractions of the bladder. 

OAB consists of several symptoms and is defined by a sudden and irrepressible need to void which can't be postponed. 

Sometimes the frequency of the voids increases and there is a need to go to the bathroom more often during the day or night. Bladder leakages may also occur. 

In most cases, there is no cause found, so we talk about idiopathic overactive bladder.

What is fecal incontinence?8

Fecal incontinence, prevents you from controlling your bowel movements. You may experience unexpected leaks, or use the bathroom very frequently. Some people experience a combination of these symptoms.

With fecal incontinence you may experience:

  • Have diarrhoea
  • Feel the urgent need to go to the toilet and/or not reach the toilet on time
  • Have constipation
  • Stain or soil your underwear

Learn more about incontinence


1. Hunskaar S, Lose G, Sykes D, Voss S. The prevalence of urinary incontinence in women in four European countries. BJU Int. 2004 Feb;93(3):324-330.

2. Eurostat EU28 data:​

3. Giebel et al. Prevalence of fecal incontinence: what can be expected? Int J Colorect Dis (1998) 13: 73–77

4. Milsom, et al. “How widespread are the symptoms of an overactive bladder and how are they managed?“ A population-based prevalence study BJU Int. 2001 Jun; 87(9):760-6.​

5. (accessed 13 Feb 2024)​

6. Reddy J, Paraiso MF. Primary stress urinary incontinence: what to do and why. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010;3(4):150-155.​

7. Leron E, Weintraub AY, Mastrolia SA, Schwarzman P. Overactive Bladder Syndrome: Evaluation and Management. Curr Urol. 2018;11(3):117-125. doi:10.1159/000447205​

8. (accessed 13 Feb 2024)