Unrinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control affecting as many as 3.3 million Canadians. There are different types of incontinence, such as stress incontinence, urge incontinence and mixed incontinence. In all cases, it’s important that you don’t feel embarrassed about it and know that a physiotherapist is available to help.


Urinary incontinence means any involuntary loss of urine. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, 1.5 million Canadians suffer from incontinence. There are three different types of incontinence:

  • Stress Incontinence, the most common, occurs when urine leaks from the bladder when pressure is applied to it suddenly. Activities such as coughing, sneezing, running or sexual intercourse can put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which may also be stressed by obesity and constipation;
  • Urge Incontinence, is the inability to control urine leaking from the bladder when the ‘urge’ to urinate occurs; and
  • Mixed Incontinence, which occurs when Stress and Urge Incontinence appear at the same time or in different circumstances.

How physio can help

Urinary incontinence in women usually occurs at two times in a woman’s life – at childbirth and then again at menopause. At child birth there may be overstretching or trauma to the floor. At menopause, the pelvic floor muscles change and may weaken. As women age, it is important to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong.

It is important for women, and men of all ages, to maintain pelvic floor muscle strength. Exercises for the pelvic floor, prescribed by a physiotherapist with training in this area, have numerous benefits including maintaining continence, helping the bladder to hold on after getting the urge to urinate, and increased satisfaction in sexual relationships.

Physiotherapy sessions may involve muscle re-education, bladder retraining and strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles. If the muscles are very weak, a physiotherapist may also use EMG/biofeedback or electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles.

Please check back soon, as we are regularly updating new content.

Are you a CPA member who would like to contribute? Please contact

Find a physiotherapist