About bladder leakage
Did you know that many women experience some degree of bladder leakage at some point in their lives? A weak bladder and resulting incontinence is more common than you think. In fact, it can affect anyone at any age, young or old, but women far more so than men.
Some women are able to bring bladder leakage under control by sitting down or crossing their legs tightly. While for others, incontinence may be a sudden urge to go to the toilet, followed by significant leakage.
Understanding the type of bladder leakage (or urinary incontinence) you have, the causes of a weak bladder and how to fix it, or at the very least manage it, should be a priority so that your lifestyle is impacted as minimally as possible.
Understanding the types of Bladder Leakage (or Urinary Incontinence)
There are 3 main types of incontinence:
- Stress incontinence is physical stress or pressure on your internal organs such as a cough, a sneeze or even a laugh when your bladder is full.
- Urge incontinence is the inability to hold on for more than a few minutes once you have a sudden overwhelming need to urinate.
- Overflow incontinence is characterised by leaking with no warning or urge to urinate.
Having a weak bladder isn't something that you should feel embarrassed about. If your bladder leakage is heavy, it’s quite simple to manage with the use of incontinence products such as the DEPEND® range of Absorbent Pants or POISE® Incontinence Pads specifically designed for bladder leakage protection. You can also be prepared for mishaps by keeping a change of clothes and underwear handy.
What causes a bladder leakage?
There’s lots of potential causes of a weak bladder and subsequently bladder leakage. They range from weakened pelvic muscles from childbirth, to bladder or prostate cancer.
Most of the time, your bladder leaks purely and simply because your pelvic floor muscles have weakened over time due to pregnancy, childbirth, or the onset of menopause.
Here are some of the other things that can lead to bladder leakage:
- Obstructions in urinary tract (e.g. tumours)
- UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- Bladder infection
- Kidney infections
- Bladder cancer and prostate cancer
- Bladder and kidney stones
- Enlarged prostate
- Nervous system afflictions including: Spinal cord injury, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis
- Nerve damage or trauma caused by surgery or certain therapies
- Spinal injury
- Trauma to the pelvis (e.g. car accident)
A note for men
The primary reason for incontinence in men is due to an enlarged prostate. You should see your doctor as soon as possible to ensure your symptoms aren’t masking something more serious.
How do I stop bladder leakage?
As you can see from the long list above, there are many causes of a weak bladder which can subsequently lead to bladder leakage. However, there are quite a few options to consider depending on the type of incontinence you have.
The first thing to remember is that you’re not alone and that this common condition is easily managed and in some cases, can be cured altogether.
However, if you find the following methods aren’t helping, there may be another underlying medical problem affecting your type of bladder leakage. Have a chat with your doctor if you’re concerned about your bladder leakage.
Here are some solutions that you may find can help a weak bladder.
One of the simplest ways to manage incontinence, whether temporary or ongoing, is to use DEPEND® or POISE® incontinence products. You can use POISE® pads for lighter bladder leakage (for protection period pads can't provide) and DEPEND® absorbent pants/tape for heavier bladder leakage.
- Make it easy to get to the toilet. This should be quite obvious. Make sure there are no obstacles preventing you from getting to the toilet quickly. If mobility is an issue, consider in-home adaptations like handrails, a raised seat in your toilet or a commode in the bedroom.
- Cut out or reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and even cola have a diuretic effect (makes you pee more often). Caffeine may also directly stimulate the bladder, making urgency symptoms worse. Try going without caffeine for a while and see if your condition improves. If it does, it doesn’t mean that it's the end of your morning coffee, it just means you’ll know to stay close to a toilet when you have a drink.
- Alcohol. Some people are affected by alcohol in the same way that others are affected by caffeine. Again, try going a while without an alcoholic drink and see if your incontinence improves.
- Drink normal quantities of fluids. Drinking less may seem like a good idea, but it actually makes your symptoms worse. That’s because your urine becomes more concentrated, which can irritate the bladder muscle. Aim to drink about 2 litres of fluid per day — about 6-8 cups, and more in hot conditions.
- Go to the toilet only when you need to. Don’t go to the toilet more often than you need to. You may think it’s a good idea to go often so as not to be ‘caught short,’ but all this does is promote an overactive bladder and make your symptoms worse in the long run. It also means your bladder becomes used to holding less urine making it even more sensitive and overactive at times when you need to hold on a bit longer.
- Lose weight (if you're overweight). Being overweight causes additional strain on your pelvic floor muscles, so losing some weight can improve your symptoms.
- Check your medications. If you’re taking medications like antihistamines or blood pressure tablets, they can interfere with muscle contraction in the bladder and urethral sphincter, making incontinence even worse. Ask your doctor about bladder-friendly alternatives.
Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises) are the main treatment for stress incontinence. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus (womb) and rectum. Pelvic floor exercises also help if you are doing bladder training.
Kegels are the foundation of incontinence therapy. Women with stress incontinence who consistently do Kegel exercises experience a 70% improvement in symptoms, and experts believe building these muscles may also help with urge incontinence. Kegels work by thickening the muscles that hold your bladder, urethra and other organs in place.
If you are just starting out, try contracting your pelvic-floor muscles for five seconds, and then relax them for five seconds, repeat this five times, 10 to 20 times a day. Read more about Pelvic Floor exercises here.
For those with urge incontinence, bladder training may help. With this form of behaviour therapy, you make yourself wait when you feel the urge to urinate, gradually increasing the intervals between bathroom trips. It’s a good idea to keep a bladder diary to keep track of your progress.
Professional Medical Intervention
There are many options that you can consider such as the Vaginal Ring Pessary (a soft removable device which goes into your vagina to hold your vagina walls in place), surgery and other oral medications. Always speak to a doctor to find out the best solution for you.
It works well if you take the medication together with the bladder training. A common plan is to try a course of medication for a month or so. If they help, you may be advised to continue for around 6 months and then stop the medication altogether to see how symptoms are without the medication.
Don’t let incontinence restrict your life! DEPEND® highly absorbent tape or pants product protects against loss of bladder control and are expertly designed for the ultimate discreet and comfort.
Sign up for a free sample now!
Grab A Free Sample
These articles might also be interesting to you
Kimberly-Clark Singapore makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
Other urinary incontinence causes