Urinary Incontinence: More Common Than You Think

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary and unintentional leaking of urine. Urinary incontinence can also be an embarrassing problem. As with many potentially embarrassing or uncomfortable symptoms, those affected may be hesitant to speak up or ask questions about their condition, even at the doctor's office. Urinary incontinence occurs more often in women than in men, and it is a lot more common than you might expect. In fact, chances are that you know other people who have been affected by urinary incontinence.

A 2010 summary of research studies presented at an international meeting of doctors who study incontinence illustrates just how common this condition can be. In particular, studies showed that some degree of urinary incontinence was reported by 25%-45% of women. While urinary incontinence becomes more common with age, 7%-37% of women aged 20-39 reported experiencing some degree of incontinence. Having incontinence on a daily basis was noted by 9% to 39% of women over 60. The prevalence of incontinence in men was reported to be approximately half that in women, with 11%-34% of older men reporting symptoms of incontinence.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014