The term continence is used when an individual has control of their bladder and bowel.

Continence care relates to helping an individual achieve and maintain this control of their bladder or bowel functions, through tips on how to keep the bladder healthy, continence assessment, identifying a suitable course of treatment if necessary and emotional support and advice.

Continence vs Incontinence

When someone is continent, they are able to control their bladder and/or their bowel of their own accord. Incontinence means the opposite – being unable to hold back the loss of urine or faeces. This can affect people of all ages and genders but is more commonly experienced in older people and children, along with women who are pregnant or have given birth. 

Incontinence and bladder problems can be cured or managed through professional help and adequate continence care.

Signs and Symptoms of Incontinence

Bladder incontinence

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising
  • Leaking urine en-route to a toilet and rushing to get there
  • Passing urine frequently
  • Issues at night – getting up multiple times to pass urine or wetting the bed when asleep
  • Difficulties emptying the bladder – straining, poor flow or feeling that it has not emptied
  • Regular UTIs

Bowel Incontinence

  • Leaking from the bowel with an urge to open the bowel frequently or inopportunely
  • Leaking from the bowel without feeling the urge
  • Leaking when passing wind, particularly when suffering from diarrhoea
  • Uncontrollable wind
  • Rushing to the toilet and feeling a concurrent need to open the bowels
  • Straining when emptying the bowel 

Not everyone who suffers from incontinence will have all of these signs and symptoms, and they may only occur occasionally. Many of the symptoms can be addressed with continence care products or treatment plans and programs.


Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine or faeces, which can significantly disrupt the quality of life of those affected.

  • Many people with incontinence put up with their symptoms for years yet, with professional help, incontinence and bladder control problems can be cured or managed.
  • Incontinence can cause embarrassment and shame for individuals and prevent them from carrying out daily activities.
  • Incontinence can put people at a greater risk of falls and is a common reason for older people being admitted to a nursing home.

Click below for specific information about incontinence in men and incontinence in women:


 Click here for information about female incontinence.


 Click here for information about male incontinence.

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