Different types of urinary incontinence need different treatment

3 February 2014

Urinary incontinence affects up to 13% of Australian men and up to 37% of Australian women. There are several types of urinary incontinence, and each has different treatment options.

In the latest edition of Australian Prescriber, Shannon Kim, Shuo Liu and Vincent Tse from Concord Hospital, Sydney, say that although incontinence isn’t life threatening, it can interfere with daily life.

The article outlines how the bladder works and the different types of incontinence:

  • Urgency incontinence, often known as overactive bladder, is a urine storage problem that can have many causes and can be managed, for example, with bladder training or medicines
  • Stress incontinence can occur for example when laughing, coughing, lifting or stretching, and if pelvic floor muscle training isn’t successful, treatment is usually surgery
  • Voiding dysfunction occurs when the muscles of the bladder do not work normally, and may improve with medicines.

Treatment aims to improve the quality of life by reducing symptoms. Not everyone will become completely dry.

“Bladder training, incontinence pads, medicines and sometimes surgery may be able to reduce uncomfortable symptoms such as frequency, urgency, urinating during the night, and incontinence,” the authors say.

“Treatment will be different for everybody, and your doctor will need to take your individual circumstances into account. For example, medicines for urinary incontinence can sometimes have side effects on other parts of the body, which might be a problemparticularly in the elderly.”

To read the full article and others visit www.australianprescriber.com

Individuals with questions about their medicine can call the NPS Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST.

Other articles in this edition of Australian Prescriber include:


Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published every two months and distributed to health professionals free of charge, and is also available online at www.australianprescriber.com 

If you are a journalist seeking comment on a story or more information on any of our programs or campaigns please contact one of our media advisers: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667 or Erin Jardine on 02 8217 8733 (during office hours) or call the NPS MedicineWise media phone on 0419 618 365 (for urgent media requests outside of office hours). If your enquiry is not urgent you can also send us an email.