It can be a common and distressing problem, which may have a profound impact on quality of life. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder and/or bowel control, resulting in the loss of urine and/or fecal matter. Urinary incontinence is a much more common problem than most people realize. In the United Kingdom it is estimated that at any one time at least 3 million people – 5% of the total population – suffer from urinary incontinence. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 13 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is more common among women than men. 10% to 30% of American women/girls aged 15-64 years are thought to suffer from it, compared to between 1.5% and 5% of men. Over half of all nursing home residents are thought to be affected by urinary incontinence. The Department of Health, UK, estimates that 20% of all women over the age of 40 are affected by urinary incontinence.