Bladder and urinary tract health: Effects of aging and incontinence

bladder and urinary tract problemsBladder and urinary tract health is an important matter, particularly as we age. Aging can significantly impact the bladder and urethra, so it’s important to understand these changes to avoid complications and know how to address them.

The decline of kidney function begins as early as the age of 40. The bladder and the urethra also undergo certain age-related changes, such as the diminishing maximum volume of urine the bladder is able to hold. The ability to hold urine may also be negatively impacted, increasing the risk of urine leaks. The rate of urine release starts slowing down, too.


Women experience age-related urinary health problems more commonly than men. Pregnancy and childbirth play a large role here. Plus, by the time women hit menopause, their estrogen levels start falling, and these hormonal fluctuations do not always go unnoticed for the urinary tract health.

Even though women are more susceptible to urinary tract problems, aging men are not immune to this kind of health complications either. Men can experience an enlarged prostate blocking the flow of urine. If left untreated, urine flow can get completely blocked, leading to further health issues, including kidney damage.

As you can see, urinary tract health is important for both men and women, and aging plays a large role in these matters. Here we will further outline the problems associated with the aging urinary tract, along with prevention tips to keep your urinary system working properly despite the number of candles on your birthday cake.

Age-related urinary tract and bladder problems

Here are some common age-related urinary tract and bladder problems one may encounter as the years go by.

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Urethra blockage – in men, the enlarged prostate may block the urethra, and in women, the pelvic muscles become weaker
  • Stiffened bladder wall – this can prevent the bladder from emptying completely
  • Increased bladder leakage (incontinence) – may result from stress on the bladder or bladder spasms
  • Increased risk of bladder and kidney stones
  • Increased risk of bladder cancer
  • Increased risk of chronic kidney disease – this condition worsens over time and may lead to the loss of kidney function

Prevention tips for urinary tract and bladder problems

Quitting smoking most successful with ‘cold turkey’ methodIt’s important to keep your urinary tract and bladder healthy to avoid any serious complications. By taking proper care of your urinary health, you can ensure that your urinary tract and bladder remain healthy even through aging.

For starters, you should practice good toilet habits. Don’t hold in your urine, ditch the habit of urinating “just in case” (because frequent urination promotes weak bladder), and when you go, make sure you position yourself properly on the toilet with both feet flat on the floor.


Other prevention tips include:

  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – extra weight puts unnecessary pressure onto the bladder
  • Increasing your mobility as it allows your to reach the bathroom quickly
  • Eliminating bladder irritants such as certain foods or beverages
  • Avoiding dehydration
  • Having an accessible bathroom
  • Adjusting your schedule for medications such as diuretics to avoid overloading your bladder at night
  • Avoiding water retention and pooling by elevating your legs a few times a day or wearing compression socks
  • Exercising regularly to support a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, and lower the risk of other health problems that can negatively impact the urinary tract system and bladder
  • Performing Kegel exercises
  • Avoiding constipation as that can add unnecessary pressure to the bladder

By following these prevention tips, you can have better success at keeping your bladder and urinary tract system healthy for years to come.

When to see a doctor for bladder problems

You should see a doctor for your urinary and bladder problems if you begin to experience symptoms related to an infection. These may include burning sensation, pain, increased urinating frequency, very dark urine or blood in urine, difficulty urinating, unusually frequent urination, and sudden urges to urinate. These may indicate a more serious problem that requires immediate medical attention.