Urinary Incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of urine. There are several types of urinary incontinence - including stress (leakage during laughing, coughing, jumping etc) or urge (leaking in conjunction with a strong urge to urinate - sometimes without warning). Some women also experience overflow incontinence where they lose dribbles of urine continuously due to an inability to fully empty the bladder. Sometimes, women experience several types of incontinence simultaneously - this is referred to as "mixed" incontinence.
Though leakage after vaginal delivery is common (approximately 1/2 of women will experience incontinence at some point, and will experience incontinence at any given time), it is NOT normal and can often be successfully treated. It is also not normal to develop leaking as you age.
Though this condition is very common, only 1 out of 12 people who are experiencing it seek treatment as they are too embarrassed to talk about it, or don't know that anything can be done.
There are some risk factors which make it more likely that you could develop incontinence. These include: obesity, post menopause hormone changes, age (over 40), pregnancy and childbirth - especially having more than one child delivered vaginally, complications during delivery (like forceps, suction, or tearing), gynaecological or urinary surgery, chronic illness, medication, smoking, or chronic straining.