Julian Spinks


General Practitioner, Medway Primary Care Trust


Urinary incontinence and its associated urinary symptoms have a major impact on the lives of those who suffer from them.

The prevalence of the condition is high with estimates of as many as one in three women over the age of 181. Despite this, only a small minority of sufferers are known to health services with only 20% of people with the condition receiving active treatment1.

The impact on quality of life for those with the condition is large. There are high levels of fear and anxiety associated with the symptoms suffered, together with a social stigma which leaves sufferers reluctant to discuss the problem. This reluctance applies even to those who could help, such as their GP.

In addition to the existing problems associated with incontinence, society faces an ageing population which will inevitably lead to a rise in prevalence of a condition which worsens with age. This, combined with the current financial pressures on the National Health Service (NHS), causes a ‘perfect storm’ of rising need and diminishing resources.

The challenge we face is how to both help existing patients and to reach out to the many who are not receiving active treatment. As health services are unlikely to be able to do this alone, self-care, supported by trained pharmacists, could, and should, become an important method for tackling this distressing condition. Widening the range of settings where help is available for those with urinary incontinence may also tackle some of the reticence to talk to doctors about the condition. Importantly, it may also start to de-stigmatise the problem.

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