Incontinence Glossary

Incontinence words and terminology.

After dribble

This is when a few drops of urine leak after you’ve been to the toilet, even if you’ve ‘waited and shaken’. There are two types of after dribble; post-micturition dribble and terminal dribble. After dribble happens because the bladder doesn’t empty completely when you urinate. Instead, the urine builds up in the tube coming out of your bladder.


Bedwetting, or nocturnal enuresis refers to involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which staying dry at night can typically be expected.

Bladder diary

A bladder diary is a record of how often you have gone to the toilet and how much you have urinated, along with what fluids you have been drinking as well as how much of them you have consumed. It is also known as a fluid intake and bladder diary.

A bladder diary keeps a record of how often urine is passed, the amount of urine, how much liquid has been drunk as well as the type of drinks consumed and when. This information can help you and medical professionals to assess the level and type of urinary incontinence, before deciding what treatment is required. For example, if the individual needs to empty the bladder more than 8 times in 24 hours, this could indicate urge urinary incontinence or something else that needs to be fully diagnosed and treated.

Bladder leakage

Also known as bladder weakness or urinary incontinence. It means a person has difficulty in controlling their bladder. This can result in an involuntary loss of urine.

Bladder training

Bladder retraining is a behavioural technique designed to increase the capacity of the bladder and decrease the frequency of urination. Over time, the bladder becomes less irritable and able to cope with larger volumes of urine. A bladder diary (also known as a fluid intake and bladder diary) is the first step in assessing urge urinary incontinence and setting up a course of bladder retraining.

Bladder weakness

Bladder weakness (also referred to as a weak bladder) occurs when there is difficulty in controlling the bladder, resulting in an involuntary loss of urine. There are many different reasons for female bladder weakness and male bladder weakness.

Although commonly used, the term bladder weakness is not medically correct since the cause of leakage is not related to a weak bladder, but instead to what is called Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS). The correct medical terminology for bladder weakness is urinary incontinence.


Here, “briefs” are specially designed to protect against incontinence. TENA® briefs for men and women are ideal for providing care for a loved one. They fasten securely with tabs and can easily be removed. Sometimes called adult diapers, incontinence briefs provide maximum absorbency for heavy incontinence protection.


Constipation is generally defined as having difficulty, delay or pain in passing a stool. Contrary to common belief, the stool doesn’t have to be hard for this to happen. This is quite common during childhood.

Continence care

Continence care is about helping an individual control their bladder or bowel functions. It can help to identify the cause or causes of incontinence, and whether these are temporary or chronic. This includes thinking about the environmental factors and required support, plus detecting any underlying conditions that may be causing incontinence in order to set objectives and plan care. It aims to prevent further incontinence with individualised care routines, toileting and sometimes incontinence products.

Dermatologically tested

The process of testing to ensure products are skin-friendly under real-life conditions.


Enuresis is the involuntary loss of urine. This word is typically referenced in the context of nocturnal enuresis, which is when incontinence occurs during sleep at night-time.

Faecal incontinence

This type of incontinence is the involuntary passage of faeces.

Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence is an inability to reach the toilet in time because of the difficulties caused by physical or mental illness, or environmental barriers.  This includes physical impairments related to ageing or disability such as the inability to remove clothing quickly enough or transfer from a wheelchair to a toilet in time. There also may be environmental barriers to reaching the toilet in time, such as there being a long distance from the toilet, or confusion around where the toilet is located.


These are incontinence pads designed specifically for men. TENA® guards are cup-shaped to follow the contours of the male body for a snug and secure fit. An adhesive strip secures them in place. They should be worn with brief-style men’s underwear. Best for light to moderate incontinence.


Incontinence or being incontinent can refer to both urinary incontinence and faecal incontinence.

Incontinence treatments

There are many kinds of recommended urinary incontinence treatments. One treatment is lifestyle interventions, such as bladder training or pelvic floor muscle exercises (PFME) which strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Changing the fluid intake and emptying pattern or weight loss can also often help.

Other kinds of treatments include medication (or medication review), incontinence aids or surgery. A surgical procedure is only recommended after a thorough evaluation and after less invasive treatment options have failed. It is always recommended to get a proper assessment to find out the exact cause of urinary incontinence.  A person considering surgery should be aware of the potential risks as well as the expected benefits of the procedure, like with any other surgical intervention.

Incontinence aids in the form of absorbent incontinence products should be used while other treatments are adopted like lifestyle interventions or medication. Incontinence aids should also be used once other treatments have failed as needed if these treatments do not work.


The period that marks the permanent cessation of menstrual activity. Read our article about how to deal with leaks during the menopause.


The act of urinating (voiding, or passing urine).

Mixed incontinence

Quite literally, this is mixed symptoms of incontinence. Usually, it’s a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.  The urge makes the bladder contract, but the pelvic muscles are not strong enough to prevent the bladder emptying. This often occurs simultaneously in women. If you happen to have both types, there’s usually one that causes more of a problem than the other. If that’s the case with you, focus on dealing with the most frequent symptom first.

Neurogenic bladder

A neurogenic bladder is the name given to a number of urinary conditions in people who lack control of bladder function due to neurological problems. Several muscles and nerves work together to enable urinary continence and effective control of emptying the bladder. So damage to the brain, spinal cord or nerves can affect the way the brain and bladder communicate. This results in an inability to control the bladder or empty it completely.


Nocturia is the need to get up to urinate frequently during the night.

Overactive bladder (OAB)

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a common descriptive name for a range of problems connected to urgency. It doesn’t mean incontinence, simply that you have to urinate frequently. An overactive bladder, sometimes also called irritable bladder, usually means you have a high daytime frequency, and often also nocturia. Remember, it is normal to empty the bladder 4-8 times a day. Overactive bladder is more common among older people and women.

Overflow incontinence

If you have a constant or intermittent flow of urine you might be dealing with overflow incontinence. It’s usually caused by something obstructing the flow of urine, resulting in the bladder overflowing and then leaking.

Pad & Pants system

2-piece incontinence pad-and-pant-system products are designed to be worn together. The pads provide a more discreet, body-close fit when worn with TENA® incontinence pants, which are reusable and disposable. They’re for medium-to-heavy incontinence protection.


Designed for very light to heavy bladder leakage and female incontinence needs. Most TENA® pads are individually wrapped and have an adhesive strip to wear with regular underwear.

Panty liners

Also called liners, these are the smallest and thinnest type of pad available. TENA® incontinence liners are designed for very light bladder leakage protection and everyday freshness.

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor muscle exercise (PFME) involves the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles to improve bladder support and closure pressure of the urethra.  Strengthening the pelvic floor is the best thing you can do to reduce the risk of any type of incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises are sometimes referred to as Kegel exercises.

Pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles (or pelvic muscles) are a group of muscles at the bottom of the abdominal cavity. They are located between the pubic bone (at the front) and the base of your spine (at the back). They also support the bladder and bowel. Weakening of these muscles can lead to problems such as urinary incontinence, and if the anal closure muscle is affected, faecal incontinence.

Post-micturition dribble

Post-micturition dribble (PMD) is the term used when an individual describes the involuntary loss of urine immediately after he or she has finished passing urine. For men, this usually happens after leaving the toilet and for women after rising from the toilet. This is also common with an enlarged prostate or weakened pelvic floor muscles.


A gland in men, which is located at the base of the bladder. The prostate produces a fluid at the point of ejaculation. Often in older men, the gland starts to grow larger and can obstruct the urine tube. A symptom of this is a poor stream of urine, also known as problems emptying the bladder or incomplete emptying of the bladder. Read more about how prostate problems can cause incontinence.

Residual urine

Urine that remains in the bladder after urinating.

Sensitive bladder

Often used to describe light bladder weakness or overactive bladder syndrome.

Stress incontinence

Urinary stress incontinence describes the involuntary leakage of urine (bladder weakness) following physical effort.  This effort can include physical exertion, or actions such as coughing, sneezing or laughing.

Stress incontinence usually only involves small amounts of urine, but is dependent on how full the bladder is when abdominal pressure occurs.  Stress incontinence is generally connected to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. In women, it can be a result of physical changes occurring during pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.

Ultra thins

TENA® Ultra Thin pads are specially designed for discretion. They have a thinner profile yet can provide the same amount of protection as regular incontinence pads.


Underpads, sometimes called bed pads, are large absorbent pads. They are designed to protect the surfaces where you might sit or lie down, such as beds, chairs and furniture. TENA® Underpads come in a variety of sizes and styles.


We use the word underwear to mean incontinence underwear for men and women. TENA® underwear products are designed to pull on and off with ease and are worn like regular underwear. They provide moderate-to-heavy incontinence protection.

Urge incontinence

Also known as an overactive bladder with urine leakage, urge incontinence is the most common type of incontinence experienced by men. You experience a sudden urge to urinate and the bladder involuntarily expels urine. The urgency feeling can make it hard to make it to the toilet in time, and it can result in small frequent losses of urine between micturition or complete bladder emptying.

Different causes include:

• enlarged prostate
• urinary tract infection
• consumption of coffee or energy drinks
• bladder stones
• fragile post-menopausal mucous
• gynaecological conditions such as prolapse or ovarian tumour
• constipation

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the lack of voluntary control over urination. Read our article to learn more about the symptoms of different types of urinary incontinence.

Urinary retention

Urinary retention happens due to emptying difficulties and means that there is still urine in the bladder after urinating. One possibly cause of this in men is having an enlarged prostate. Symptoms of bladder emptying difficulties could be a poor urinary stream, which could include intermittent flow, straining and a delay between trying to urinate and the flow actually beginning. As the bladder remains full, this may lead to overflow incontinence.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria getting into the urinary tract. A lower urinary tract infection is located in the urethra and the bladder. If left untreated it can spread through the ureters to one or both kidneys.  This type of infection is known as an Upper UTI.


TENA® incontinence wipes and washcloths are specially sized for adults. They are used to gently clean and soothe the skin.