Incontinence Care

All Sedem Pharmacies stock a wide range of incontinence products for both Men and Women.


Incontinence is a term that describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence).

Incontinence is a widespread condition that ranges in severity from 'just a small leak' to complete loss of bladder or bowel control. Incontinence can be treated and managed. In many cases it can also be cured.

Incontinence is not just a problem for older people or people with disability. Despite this, people from these two groups are at greater risk of developing bladder or bowel control problems. This is because of poor mobility (ability to get around), memory problems and chronic health problems such as Parkinson's disease, stroke, dementia and multiple sclerosis.

How Your Bladder Works

The bladder is a storage organ that sits in your pelvis. Urine is made by your kidneys and stored in the bladder until you are ready to empty it. When you go to the toilet your bladder outlet muscles (urethral sphincter and pelvic floor) relax and your bladder contracts (squeezes) emptying your bladder of urine. Your brain controls your bladder by sending messages to tell it when to hold on and when to empty.

Anatomy of pelvis and bladder with pelvic floor muscles

What are the signs of a healthy bladder?

A normal bladder:
Empties 4-8 times each day (every 3-4 hours) Can hold up to 400-600ml of urine (the sensation of needing to empty occurs at 200-300 ml) May wake you up once at night to pass urine and twice if you are older (i.e. over 65) Tells you when it is full but gives you enough time to find a toilet Empties completely each time you pass urine, and Does not leak urine.

People who experience accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder may be suffering from urinary incontinence.

How Your Bowel Works

The bowel, a tube-like organ, is part of the alimentary canal (digestive tract). It starts at the stomach and goes through to the anus (back passage). It’s actually the small and large intestine, so there are two bowels – it’s the large bowel that empties into the toilet. This waste matter is called faeces, bowel motions, stools or ‘poo’.

Digestion of food occurs in the stomach and small bowel. The term ‘small bowel’ is often used to describe the upper part of the intestine or bowel. The small bowel takes the nourishment your body needs from what you eat and the remaining waste forms faeces.

The term ‘large bowel’ can be used to describe the colon and rectum, located low in the pelvic floor. Faeces enter the large bowel as liquid. The large bowel absorbs water back into the body and the faeces become more solid. When faeces reach the lower part of the large bowel (rectum), you feel fullness or the urge to pass a bowel motion.

What Are The Signs Of A Healthy Bowel?

Being ‘regular’ is a way of describing good bowel habits or normal bowel function. We often talk about our bowels being regular but this is often misunderstood as meaning that you go to the toilet to pass faeces every day. It’s common for people to empty their bowel once a day, although it’s still normal to be more or less often. Being regular really means that soft yet well-formed bowel motions are easily passed and that this happens anywhere from 1–3 times a day to 3 times a week.

The bowel usually wants to empty about 30 minutes after a meal (commonly breakfast), but this can vary from person to person.

There’s more to good bowel function than just being regular. For example, you should be able to:

  • Hold on for a short time after you feel the first urge to go to the toilet - this allows time to get there and remove clothing without any accidental loss of faeces
  • Pass a bowel motion within about a minute of sitting down on the toilet
  • Pass a bowel motion easily and without pain - ideally, you shouldn’t be straining on the toilet or struggling to pass a bowel motion which is hard and dry, and Completely empty your bowel when you pass a motion - you don’t have to go back to the toilet soon after, to pass more.
People who pass bowel motions at the wrong time or in the wrong place may be experiencing poor bowel control, or faecal incontinence. They may also pass wind when they don't want to.

Poor bowel control is more common than you may think - about one in 20 people experience poor bowel control. It's often not talked about, but both men and women can have poor bowel control. It's more common as you get older, but young people can also have poor bowel control. Sometimes, people with poor bowel control also have poor bladder control and may leak urine.

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

In many cases, incontinence can be prevented by adopting healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Here are some simple steps that can be incorporated into your daily life to help prevent urinary incontinence and faecal incontinence.

Drink Well

Aim to drink 6-8 cups (1.5 - 2 litres) of fluid per day. Spread your drinks evenly throughout the day Drink more fluids (preferably water) if the weather is hot or if you are exercising, and cut down on alcohol, fizzy drinks and drinks that have caffeine in them as they irritate the bladder.

Don't reduce your fluid intake if you have a bladder control problem, as this will concentrate your urine and make the problem worse.

Eat A Healthy Diet

Eat plenty of fibre, which improves bowel function by absorbing water and adding bulk to your bowel motions (poo). Bulky stools keep things moving through your bowel to avoid constipation. A high fibre diet means you need to drink plenty of fluid as the fibre needs water in order to bulk up your bowel motions.

Lead A Positive Lifestyle

Maintain an ideal body weight with a Body Mass Index of 25 or less. Excess body fat strains the pelvic floor and can lead to bladder and bowel control problems. Stop smoking. Chronic (long-term) coughing associated with smoking can weaken the muscles of your pelvic floor and lead to bladder and bowel control problems.

Get Active

Aim to exercise for 30 minutes most days. Exercise stimulates movement of the bowel, and even gentle exercise like walking helps, and Do pelvic floor muscle regularly.

Incontinence Products

Continence products such as pads can help people affected by incontinence to lead a normal life. Using these continence products does not replace the need to seek professional advice from a health professional. The first step in learning to manage your incontinence should always be to seek professional advice.

Pads & Pants

There are many continence products on the market that can assist you to stay dry and comfortable. These can be purchased at all Sedem Pharmacies where our trained staff can assist you in choosing the right product to meet your needs.

People come in all shapes and sizes. So do continence pads and pants. Pads can be disposable (i.e. use once and throw away) or re-usable (i.e. washable The advantage of disposable pads is their convenience, however they can be expensive to continue using. Reusable items are less expensive over time but require washing and drying. This includes pads and pants with built-in pads.

Protectors for mattresses and chairs Protectors or pads for beds and chairs, including wheel chairs and car seats, have a waterproof backing to protect the bed or seat

They can be used alone or in addition to pads and pants. These protectors can be disposable or reusable and are designed to draw the urine away from the body.

They are often used at night to help with a good night's sleep undisturbed by a wet bed.

All Sedem Pharmacies stock a wide range of incontinence products for both Men and Women.

Healthy Living Services

Incontinence Care Stoma Care