Understanding Female Incontinence

What is Female Incontinence?

For many women, female incontinence means losing just a few drops of urine when they laugh, sneeze, cough, jog, make love, or even hear running water, when washing the dishes or walking past a fountain.

Female incontinence is widespread and affects women of all ages, including young adults and sometimes even children. Incontinence can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions, and minor and serious physical problems that can affect both young and old, healthy and ailing.

Some women learn to quickly bring mild incontinence under control by sitting down or crossing their legs tightly. While for others, female incontinence may be a sudden urge to go to the toilet, followed by significant amount of liquid loss.

If you’re finding you’re experiencing an episode of leakage, take heart that you are not alone. You’ll probably discover some of your friends are going through the same thing, as 1 in 3 women experience light bladder leakage. The other thing you’ll discover is that female incontinence is also entirely treatable.

Types of Female Incontinence?

Knowing what type of incontinence you have, is the first important step to finding the right treatment. Once diagnosed, your GP can then advise you what treatment options are available for your specific type of incontinence. While there are several types, the three most common types of female incontinence are stress, urge and overflow incontinence.

Stress incontinence is physical stress or pressure on your internal organs such as a cough, a sneeze or even a laugh when your bladder is full. Read more about stress incontinence.

Urge incontinence is the inability to hold on for more than a few minutes once you have a sudden overwhelming need to urinate. Read more about urge incontinence.

Overflow incontinence is characterised by leaking with no warning or urge to urinate. Read more about overflow incontinence.



Identifying your pelvic floor muscles can be difficult and it takes practice to find and squeeze your pelvic floor correctly. Whilst locating these muscles, refrain from using your stomach, buttock and leg muscles when trying the methods below.

If you continue to have difficulty, speak to your doctor to determine the best ways to manage and reduce leaks for you and your body.

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Pelvic Floor Exercises are an easy and effective way to manage and treat female incontinence. Done regularly, pelvic exercises can help control and in some cases, prevent incontinence entirely.


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Bladder training is designed to help increase the amount of urine you can hold in your bladder in between trips to the bathroom, without experiencing urgency or leakage. A BLADDER DIARY is the perfect way to identify the time of day and month you most experience incontinence, and will help you to manage and control your symptoms.

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Check out the range of POISE PRODUCTS which can help you manage the problem, and read some of our articles below to learn about triggers and find out about the treatment options available to you.

More Information about Female Incontinence

Female Incontinence Causes

Did you know women are more prone to light leakage than men? This is because women’s plumbing is more internalised. While this has advantages, it also means the female bladder muscle structure is also internalised and so influenced by female events like pregnancy, childbirth, hysterectomy, and menopause.

    Some of the biggest causes of female incontinence are:
  • Weakened and stretched pelvic floor muscles (sometimes resulting in prolapse) from pregnancy and childbirth
  • Thinning and drying of the skin in the vagina or urethra, especially after menopause
  • Certain medicines
  • Constipation
  • Being over weight
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vascular disease
  • Diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis

Other temporary incontinence causes are certain foods, drink and medications. In these cases, a simple change in habits may sort out the problem.

Read more about female incontinence causes.

Female Incontinence Treatments

So, what are your options for treating bladder weakness? And how do you deal with incontinence while you’re getting it treated? After all, you don’t want to miss out on social occasions, sports activities, shopping trips and other fun events just because your bladder control isn’t the best at the moment.

If you do have bladder control problems, tell your doctor and ask about treatment options available. You may be very pleasantly surprised to find that bladder treatments can be straightforward, very effective and in some cases you may be able to regain full bladder control.



Some women can manage their urinary incontinence without much effort or professional help (especially when it’s not too bad).

    However, a visit to your GP or a referral to a urologist is probably a very good idea if:
  • Your incontinence problem persists
  • Thinning and drying of the skin in the vagina or urethra, especially after menopause
  • Certain medicines
  • Constipation
  • Being over weight


Poise has a range of discreet and comfortable Liners and Pads that are specifically designed to help you manage light bladder leakage. To learn more about the products available, and find the right product for you, visit our Poise products page.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice from a qualified health care professional with any questions regarding your concerns.

Recommended Articles about Incontinence

Types of incontinence

The four types of urinary incontinence all have different causes and symptoms.

Incontinence Causes

Start a conversation about incontinence and there’s bound to be a red face or two, some silly jokes, and a quick change of subject. Very few people are genuinely inclined to discuss incontinence – theirs or anyone else’s – leaving many sufferers clueless about incontinence causes and treatment

Why women? The female bladder and how it works

Women’s waterworks are more internalised than the male anatomy, which can influence female incontinence. Learn more about female bladder here.