Urinary incontinence (UI), or the unintentional loss of urine, is a problem for more than 13 million Americans—85 percent of them women. Although about half of the elderly have episodes of incontinence, bladder problems are not a natural consequence of aging, and they are not exclusively a problem of the elderly.
Incontinence has several causes. Women are most likely to develop incontinence either during pregnancy and childbirth, or after the hormonal changes of menopause, because of weakened pelvic muscles. Older men can become incontinent as the result of prostate surgery. Pelvic trauma, spinal cord damage, caffeine, or medications including cold or over-the-counter diet tablets also can cause episodes of incontinence.
But even though urinary incontinence can be improved in 8 out of 10 cases, fewer than half of those with bladder problems ever discuss the condition with their health care professional. The condition often goes untreated.