From an early age, most people have the ability to control their bladder and bowel. This is known as continence.

Continence is the ability to pass urine or faeces voluntarily in a socially acceptable place.

Incontinence is the unwanted and involuntary leakage of urine or stool.

Many people will be affected by incontinence at some point in their life.

It is a common condition that affects an estimated 400 million people around the world.1 Given the sensitive nature of the condition, many people wait a long time before discussing the issue with a health care professional.

Conditions affecting the bladder and bowel have been taboo subjects and individuals often feel uncomfortable discussing their symptoms and problems.2

It is estimated that fewer than 40% of people with urinary incontinence seek help for their condition from a GP or nurse. This figure is even higher for those with faecal incontinence. These conditions can have a huge effect on all areas of an individual's life, from self-esteem and wellbeing to quality of life. Yet these conditions can be managed, treated and sometimes cured with the right support and advice.


(1) ICI publication 2013, Incontinence. Prevalence data, page 81.

Related articles

A CPD article improved Rose Gallacher’s knowledge of the...
Nursing Standard
Apr 2017
Continence care is a fundamental nursing skill and should...
Nursing Standard
Feb 2017
Treat people as you would like to be treated and...
Nursing Standard
Jan 2017
Millions of people in the UK experience continence...
Nursing Standard
Feb 2016