Incontinence Overview

Incontinence is a prevalent health condition that is rarely discussed as people living with the condition are often embarrassed to discuss it with their healthcare provider. Incontinence includes the more common, urinary incontinence (UI) and the less common, fecal incontinence (FI); over-active bladder (OAB) refers to that frequent need for voiding without leakage. Many incontinent people will have both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence, with or without urinary leakage.

The continence care community generally agrees that the prevalence of incontinence in Canada is about the same as in the United States—about 10% of the population. That means that approximately 3.5 million Canadians experience some form of incontinence. There tends to be a greater prevalence of incontinence amongst women than men; it is believed that this difference is related to female childbearing and other consequences specific to women.

The number of individuals living with incontinence is likely to increase as the population ages, since the prevalence of the condition tends to increase with age.  Even though incontinence is not life-threatening or overly disabling per se, it has a major impact upon the quality-of-life for those affected—physical, social, mental, and emotional along with loss of independence as aging occurs.


Incontinence: The Canadian Perspective