Incontinence affects millions of people of all ages across the UK and the world. However, incontinence isn’t the same for everyone and many different forms could affect your day to day life.

One form you may not have heard of is ‘latchkey’ incontinence. If you’re sat there wondering ‘what is latchkey incontinence?’ we’ve outlined everything there is to know about it below, alongside tips on how to keep it at bay.

What is latchkey incontinence?

To understand ‘latchkey’ incontinence, you first need to understand that it’s a type of incontinence known as urge incontinence.

This condition is defined as the sudden urge to urinate, often followed by the involuntary loss of urine. The reason for it being called urge incontinence is that it’s an intense sensation of needing to go to the toilet immediately, which occurs due to the bladder muscles beginning to contract, sending a signal that a person needs to urinate even though the bladder isn’t full.

When it comes to ‘latchkey’ incontinence, this often affects those that already have poor bladder control, and refers to those who have a sudden, intense urge to use the bathroom as soon as they get home and put the key in the door.

Knowing you’ll be close to your toilet causes the bladder to contract in the way it does with urge incontinence.

This can be problematic for an individual, as the urgency to go to the toilet can affect the quality of life as much as the incontinence itself.

What causes it?

As mentioned, urge incontinence is caused due to abnormal bladder contractions. This can occur due to several reasons, which can differ from person to person. However, some people never find out what the cause of their incontinence is.

Some causes amongst men and women include:

  • Damage to the nerves of the bladder, which can be caused by strokes or medical conditions such as MS and Parkinson’s
  • Bladder irritation, which can be brought on by urinary tract infections
  • Constipation as a full bowel can put pressure on your bladder, making incontinence urges worse

Additional urge incontinence issues can include:

  • Age
  • Having a prostatectomy
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Severe injury to the bladder

While these are the key causes of urge incontinence as a whole, ‘latchkey’ incontinence can be caused by a force of habit.

This has been argued by many experts who’ve said that we associate objects with actions. Therefore, the urge to go to the toilet can be triggered by the sound of running water. And, due to use being taught from a young age that the bathroom is associated with urinating, the closer we get to our homes can activate deep-rooted psychology that we need to go to the toilet.

When it comes to ‘latchkey’ incontinence, it’s associated with the sudden urge to use the toilet as soon as you put your key in the front door.

Over time this could get worse, causing you to leak or pee before you even get through the front door.

Can you cure latchkey incontinence?

While there isn’t a cure for urge incontinence, there are a few theories on how to stop latchkey incontinence before it gets too bad.

A study at the University of Utah* found that because the mind can be a powerful factor when it comes to bladder issues, cognitive therapy has proved helpful when breaking the pattern of needing to use the toilet once you’ve put the key into the door.

Alongside this, techniques such as using a different door to help decrease the urge have also proved helpful. Other distraction techniques that have been suggested to help you ignore the pounding of your bladder include:

  • Emptying your bladder before you leave to go home, as you’ll know it’s your brain sending false signals, as it takes three to four hours for your bladder to fill up
  • Making dinner as soon as you get in
  • Opening the mail or other small tasks

These techniques could help you to gradually wait to use the toilet to help prevent ‘latchkey’ incontinence.

However, when it comes to urge incontinence, this isn’t as simple, but there are ways you can attempt to prevent the urge to use the toilet. These include:

  • Relaxing the mind
  • Cutting down on caffeine
  • Prolonging the time you wait to use the toilet
  • Pelvic floor exercises

If you need any advice on urge or ‘latchkey’ incontinence, or if you require some guidance when it comes to incontinence care products, please get in touch today.

You can do this by calling us on 01204 895410 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday – Friday and one of our members of staff will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, you can use the inquiry form here, and someone will get back to you within 24-hours.