Absorbent underwear: Ordinary cloth underwear with an absorbent panel built in to catch and retain leaks. The rise of absorbent, leakproof underwear over the past few years has been a game-changer for men and women living with light incontinence, and women looking for sustainable ways to manage menstruation and breastfeeding.
Adult diapers: Adult diapers are made to be worn by those with a body larger than a child. Adult diapers can be necessary for adults with some conditions, and can also be referred to as nappies. Confusingly, some diaper companies call them underwear or briefs, even though they are not reusable or washable.
Bladder: The bladder is an organ in the urinary tract that collects urine from the kidneys via the ureters and stores it before expelling it from the body via the urethra. A typical human bladder can collect 300-500ml / 10-17 fl oz of urine before the urge to urinate occurs.
Bladder infection: A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). Women have a higher risk of contracting bladder infections, and some people can be at greater risk than others. Some infections do not have any symptoms. Symptoms include frequent urge to urinate, and painful burning when urinating.
Bladder leakage: Another term for urinary incontinence, or difficulty controlling the bladder, which can result in an involuntary loss of urine.
Blood in the urine: Also known as hematuria, blood in the urine can be caused by a number of disorders, including infections, stones in the urinary tract and cancer. It may be visible to the naked eye or visible only under a microscope, and can be accompanied by pain in some cases.
Breast leakage: Many women begin to experience leakage from the nipples during pregnancy, as their breasts prepare to feed their new baby. Once the baby is born and the woman’s milk ‘comes in’ spontaneous leakage is common and can be managed by wearing absorbent nursing or maternity pads inside the cup of your maternity bra. Many women prefer the sustainable option of
, which can be washed, dried and used again and again.
Cystoscopy: A cystoscopy is a procedure during which a lighted optical instrument is inserted through the urethra into the bladder.
Enuresis: Involuntary loss of urine is known as enuresis. Enuresis that occurs at night while asleep is known as nocturnal enuresis or bedwetting.
Estrogen: A female hormone that is produced by the ovaries, and in small amounts by the adrenal cortex, placenta and male testes. Estrogen guides sexual development and influences menstruation, lactation, mood and the aging process. Production varies across the female lifespan, reaching adult levels during puberty and decreasing during menopause. Estrogen deficiency and excess can both have various side effects.
Functional incontinence: Functional incontinence is when an individual has control over their urination and has a fully functional urinary tract, but can’t get to a bathroom in time due to a physical or cognitive disability. Functional incontinence can be caused by conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Incontinence: Incontinence is the inability to hold urine in the bladder, keep feces in the rectum or control excretions.
Incontinence pads: Single-use incontinence pads for women are similar in appearance to sanitary pads, but as blood is thicker and more viscous than urine they are designed to hold significantly more liquid. Incontinence pads for men are commonly called shields or guards and are shaped to fit inside the underwear. They come equipped with an adhesive layer so they can be secured inside regular underwear and usually contain a plastic layer to prevent leaks.
Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen and increase elasticity in the pelvic floor muscles of women and men. They are often recommended as treatment for urinary incontinence.
Kidneys: These bean-shaped organs in the renal tract have several important jobs, including regulating blood pressure, producing hormones, filtering the blood and removing waste products and fluids from the body in the form of urine.
Lochia: The heavy vaginal bleeding women experience after childbirth is called lochia, or postpartum bleeding. It’s a combination of blood, uterine tissue and mucus. It may vary in colour from bright red at first to brown or pink after about a week, and white or clear until it tails off after about six weeks. Avoid tampons during this time due to the risk of infection.
Menopause: Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when menstruation stops permanently, signalling the end of her childbearing years. It is defined as when there has been no menstrual period for 12 consecutive month and is caused by the ovaries naturally decreasing production of estrogen and progesterone. Side effects include hot flushes, dry vagina, a decline in sex drive, mood swings, forgetfulness and trouble sleeping. Menopause usually occurs at around the age of 50, but there is great variation in age with women experiencing menopause anywhere from the age of 30 through to in their 60s.
Menorrhagia: The medical term for abnormally heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. If you soak one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several hours, if you have to wake up in the night to change your menstrual protection, or if your period lasts longer than a week, contact your doctor for advice.
Menstruation: Also known as a period, menstruation is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs approximately monthly for most women. Each month the uterus prepares itself for pregnancy, but if fertilisation does not occur the lining of the uterus breaks down and is shed via the vagina over a period of about three to five days. Most women experience their first period between the ages of 11 and 14 and they continue until menopause.
Metrorrhagia: Uterine bleeding between menstrual periods. It may be a sign of hormone imbalance,
, uterine fibroids or cancer of the uterus.
Micturition: Micturition is another word for the act of passing urine.
Muscle contraction: The tightening and shortening of a muscle.
Nocturia: Nocturia is the condition of excessive urinating at night, causing sleep loss. Nocturia can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as diabetes, urinary infection or pregnancy.
Nocturnal enuresis: Nocturnal enuresis is an involuntary loss of urine while asleep.
Nursing pads: Spontaneous leakage is common during pregnancy and breastfeeding and can be managed by wearing absorbent nursing or maternity pads inside the cup of your maternity bra. Many women prefer the sustainable option of plastic-free reusable nursing pads, which can be washed, dried and used again and again.
Overactive bladder: Overactive bladder occurs when the muscular wall of the bladder suddenly involuntarily contracts, causing an immediate unstoppable urge to urinate. It is the cause of urge
. Treatments include pelvic floor muscle strengthening, behavioural therapy and prescribed medications.
Overflow incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not completely empty when going to the toilet, leading to frequent urine leakage. It can be caused by an obstruction to the bladder or a lack of proper bladder contraction. Overflow incontinence often occurs as a result of certain medications, spinal injury or conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
Pelvic floor exercises: Pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegels) involve contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. The exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles, enabling better urethral closure pressure. Pelvic floor exercises are one of the most common treatments for urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscles: The pelvic floor muscles form a sling between your legs, which extends from the pubic bone to the base of your spine. Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence.
Perimenopause: Perimenopause is the transition between when the first changes of menopause occur, and when menopause is officially reached. It usually takes place over several years and is marked by fluctuations in hormone levels produced by the ovaries.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy is a type of rehabilitative health using specially designed exercises and equipment to regain or improve physical abilities.
Post-micturition dribble: Post-micturition dribble is an involuntary loss of urine that occurs immediately after urination. It is more common in men and is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles.
Prostate: The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system which is located just below the bladder. It is shaped like a chestnut, and it surrounds the beginning of the urethra.
Reflex incontinence: Reflex incontinence is a loss of bladder control without any warning, and is usually caused by a neurological impairment that stops the brain from realising that the bladder is full. Reflex incontinence is caused by things like spinal cord injuries and damage from surgery.
Stress incontinence: Bladder leakage that occurs when pressure is placed on the abdomen during activities like exercising, sneezing or coughing is called stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is often caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, and is particularly common for women after childbirth.
Underactive bladder: An underactive bladder holds more urine than normal, and can be prone to small bladder leaks if the bladder is full.
Ureters: Tubes that transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Urethra: The urethra is the tube that transports urine from the bladder to be discharged outside the body. In men, the urethra travels through the penis. In women, the urethra is much shorter and emerges above the vaginal opening.
Urethral sphincter: The urethral sphincter is a muscular mechanism that controls the retention and release of urine from the bladder. Part of the muscular bladder wall, it prevents urine from entering the urethra and is controlled involuntarily by the brain. The external sphincter is a layer of muscle called the urogenital diaphragm, which supports the pelvis and prevents urine being discharged from the body. The external sphincter is under voluntary control.
Urethritis: Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, which can be caused by irritation from conditions like cystitis, or from sexually transmitted diseases.
Urge incontinence: A sudden involuntary contraction of the bladder can cause an overwhelming urge to urinate that cannot be controlled. This is called urge incontinence and can often result in wetting yourself before you can make it to a toilet. Urge incontinence is caused by the main contractor muscle in the bladder, which cannot properly control when to store or release urine. Treatment can include pelvic floor exercises, behavioural therapy and medication.
Urinalysis: Urinalysis is a test done to analyse urine, which can be used to detect diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and gout.
Urinary incontinence: Urinary incontinence is involuntary loss of urine due to an inability to hold urine in the bladder. There are several types of urinary incontinence, including stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Treatment, which can include lifestyle therapy, behaviour therapy, pelvic floor exercises, medication and surgery, will vary depending on the type of incontinence and the cause.
Urinary tract: The urinary tract consists of the organs in the body that produce, store and discharge urine, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
Urinary tract infection: A urinary tract infection is an infection of any of the organs that are part of the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections usually result in a frequent urge to urinate and pain when urinating. They are more common in females than males and can result in short-term urinary incontinence.
Urinary urgency: Urinary urgency is an immediate unstoppable urge to urinate, caused by the muscle wall of the bladder suddenly involuntarily contracting.