Although urinary incontinence (UI) is a very common issue affecting 10% to 20% of people across Europe, it is still very much a taboo subject, according to new survey by the European Association of Urology (EAU).

Of the people that experience some form of UI, nearly 30% are not comfortable talking about it.

The survey examined the knowledge of and experience with urinary incontinence of 3,029 men and women of eighteen years and older in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

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Although it is a treatable condition, only a third of the people who experience some loss of urine seek help from a professional (a GP or medical specialist).

More women than men feel uncomfortable talking about urinary incontinence

Around 35% of this group gives as a reason that they expect that UI will cure by itself. Another 27% is not comfortable talking about it with a professional. Remarkably, more women than men feel uncomfortable talking about it. 44% of the Dutch respondents aged 55 and over who experienced UI have never spoken to anyone about it, the highest of any age category.

Although most of the respondents think that UI can be treated depending on the cause, a quarter stills feels that you have to accept living with it or is not aware of any treatment.

The highest number of unawareness of treatment is in the UK, with 47% not knowing about treatment possibilities. In Italy, 46% of the respondents said they are not seeing a specialist as they expect UI to improve by itself, followed by the Netherlands (38%), the UK (35%), Germany (33%), and France (32%).

Professor Christopher Chapple, Secretary General of the EAU, said: “Many people suffer from incontinence and recent studies confirm that it is increasingly affecting the quality of life. Luckily, there are different possibilities ranging from pads to surgery. There’s absolutely no need for shame.”