Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine. It is a ubiquitous disorder, thought to occur more commonly than
more familiar health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and
depression. It is a condition whose profile of affected patients
includes women of all age groups and which transcends socioeconomic
and cultural circumstance.2 Given the above, the social,
emotional, and economic impact of the disease on individuals and
communities is self-evident.
The true prevalence of urinary incontinence world-wide, and
in South Africa is essentially unknown. Community based studies
have reported the prevalence as ranging between 14% and 67%,
showing a large discrepancy from the estimates of physician-based
studies, which show an estimated prevalence of between 0.5-5%. This disparity is thought to arise from a combination of underreporting,
under-diagnosis, and under-treatment of the disease.