Nov 18, 2022

More common than asthma: What to know about incontinence

Overactive bladder and fecal incontinence affect millions

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Incontinence is a stigmatized condition that people don’t often want to talk about, but these conditions – overactive bladder and bowel incontinence – are more common than diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s, or breast cancer.

Although one in every six people live with overactive bladder (OAB) and one in 12 with fecal incontinence, these conditions are largely absent from health conversations in the United States.

“This is incredibly debilitating for people,” said Mira Sahney, president of the Pelvic Health business at Medtronic. “It takes away their freedom to live their lives whether that’s to work, to be with family, and to do activities that many of us take for granted.”

Overactive bladder disproportionately affects women, with an estimated 40% of women in the U.S. living with this condition, according to the American Urological Association. But incontinence can affect people of all ages and many people living with OAB don’t ask for help.

And while incontinence is commonly thought to be a normal part of aging, that is simply not true, Sahney said. It requires treatment like any other condition.

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Despite the widespread prevalence of incontinence, people with these conditions often go years suffering in silence due to the social stigma. Meanwhile, it significantly impacts quality of life, including social activities, exercise, intimacy, and sleep.

In the past 25 years ago, Medtronic Pelvic Health therapies have treated over 375,000 patients. Learn more from Sahney about how Medtronic Pelvic Health is making treatment options more widely known, easier to access, and more equitable on the MedtronicTalks podcast.