Urinary incontinence

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is any involuntary or unwanted loss of urine. It is considered a medical condition if it happens regularly. The risk of developing incontinence increases with age, but younger people may also develop it. Women are more likely to suffer from this condition than men.

Incontinence is common and causes distress and embarrassment. Many people go without treatment because they feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with their doctor.

If incontinence is frequent or affects your quality of life, it is important to seek medical advice. In most cases, incontinence can be treated or cured with various treatment options. These include pelvic floor exercises, drug treatment, or surgery. Together with your doctor you can discuss which treatment is best for you.

Fig. 1a: The male lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1a: The male lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1b: The female lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1b: The female lower urinary tract.

This information was produced by the European Association of Urology.

  • Prof. Dr. Frank van der Aa, Leuven (BE)
  • Dr. Jean-Nicolas Cornu, Paris (FR)
  • Ms. Sharon Holroyd, Leeds (UK)
  • Prof. Dr. José Enrique Robles, Pamplona (ES)
  • Ms. Eva Wallace, Dublin (IR)

Chapter Surgery for women was updated in March 2018 by:

  • Dr. Jan-Peter Jessen Essen (DE)
  • Dr. Ricardo Pereira e Silva, Lisbon (PT)