Millions of Australians will avoid certain activities, sports and even social occasions during their lifetime due to bladder and bowel control problems and most will not seek professional help due to embarrassment or the belief that nothing can be done. The numbers are impressive, about 2 out of every 100 young adults wet the bed at night, 4 million Australians have bladder control problems, 1 million Australians have poor bowel control and incontinence affects 1 in 10 people over the age of 75 years.

There are many causes of both urinary leakage/incontinence and faecal incontinence, although it is more common with aging it can affect people at all ages and is not inevitable with aging.

The most common causes of weakened pelvic floor muscles are pregnancy, childbirth and surgery. The impact of pregnancy and childbirth is significant, explaining the significant difference in the numbers of women experiencing some form of loss of bladder control compared to men, particularly after menopause due the declining estrogen levels also affecting bladder function. Men's pelvic floor muscles can be weakened through surgery on the prostate.

Other common factors include excess weight, chronic constipation and conditions affecting communication between the brain and bladder and bowel.

Problems of control of bladder and bowel are so common, your GP will be likely to have treated many people with similar problems to yourself.

There are many steps everyone can take to prevent and help with continence problems:

  • Drink enough fluids daily ( around 1500 to 2000 ml )
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a fibre-rich diet to prevent constipation
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol use
  • Exercise regularly
  • Empty your bladder when your bladder feels full, avoid going 'just in case'
  • Don't rush, try to fully empty your bladder
  • Women should sit to go to the toilet rather than hover over the toilet seat
  • Exercise your pelvic floor muscles, particularly if you have been pregnant.

 At the website, there is a list of the mobile apps available (look for the Resource Sheet heading,  the Apps are rated according to their function). These offer daily reminders and guides after the basics have been mastered with instruction on how to perform them correctly

Specialist Continence and Women's Health physiotherapists treat and manage a wide range of issues for both men and women, including bladder and bowel dysfunction, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction and pelvic floor dysfunction.

The Australian Government provides multiple fact sheets and information for all ages at and also a National Continence Helpline on 1800 330 066

The Continence Foundation of Australia provides information on funding, referral and products for individuals, carers and professionals to help treat and manage bladder and bowel control problems at

The Continence Physiotherapy Network of WA have an on-line directory of physiotherapists who have post graduate qualifications in this specialty area at . They are located according to their postcodes, making it easier to locate an appropriate physio near you.

The National Continence Program has a National Public Toilet Map available online at, there is also a national Public Toilet Map APP available for mobile devices

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