Bladder leaks can be embarrassing as they can strike at any time. There are numerous reasons for bladder leaks. Knowing what’s causing them in your case can help you better address the issue.
Here are four common causes of bladder leaks and what you can do about each of them to reduce your risk of yet another embarrassing moment.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Stress incontinence is the loss of bladder control when stress is placed on the abdomen, like during exercise, coughing, sneezing, and laughter. It is the most common cause of bladder leakage in women and can have a significant physical and emotional impact.
This condition is caused by a weakened pelvic floor due to childbirth, menopause, or everyday stress on the body. Taking steps to strengthen this muscle group through regular exercise and proper nutrition can aid in reducing stress incontinence so that you can live your life with greater confidence.
Urge incontinence, also referred to as overactive bladder (OAB), is a condition in which an individual experiences a strong and sudden need to urinate, even when the bladder is not full. This can impact an individual’s ability to engage in daily activities, making it difficult for them to work or socialize with others.
Urge incontinence is usually caused by damage to the nerves that are responsible for controlling the muscles surrounding the bladder. This damage can result from many different sources, such as neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s or from certain kinds of pelvic surgeries or injuries. Urge incontinence can be quite disruptive to quality of life and may require medical treatment and lifestyle changes to manage it effectively.
Overflow incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where the bladder becomes overly full and cannot completely empty itself. This can be caused by a blockage along the urinary tract or a disruption in the nerve signals telling the bladder to contract to void.
Overflow incontinence can lead to frequent, strong urges to go, weak urine flow, night-time voiding, and persistent difficulty emptying the bladder. It is important to speak to a medical professional if you are experiencing any symptoms of overflow incontinence as they may recommend treatments such as medications, lifestyle changes, and/or medical procedures.
7 Causes for Bladder Leaks
Weak pelvic muscles: To hold in urine, your urethra closes tightly to ensure nothing leaks out. In individuals with stress incontinence, any pressure added to the bladder causes a leak because the pelvic muscles are too weak to close it properly. This can be a result of childbirth or even genetically predetermined.
Thankfully, you can perform exercises known as Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Simply contract your pelvic muscles as if you are holding in urine. Hold for a few seconds, release, and repeat. The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anytime and anywhere, and no one will know.
Low bladder capacity: Urge incontinence means you have a strong urge to urinate even when your bladder is not completely full. The good news is Kegels can help improve urge incontinence, too. Also, you should only go to the bathroom when you really need to. Trying to hold it as long as you can may help as well.
Body weight: Being overweight can contribute to a leaky bladder. A study found that for every five-unit increase on the body mass index chart (BMI), your risk of incontinence rises by 20 to 70 percent! Carrying extra weight puts additional pressure on the bladder and causes excessive stretching, which can also weaken pelvic floor muscles.
The fix here is maintaining a healthy weight. In another study, women who successfully lost weight decreased their weekly incontinence occurrences by 65 percent.
Diet: When it comes to bladder leaks, think of the four C’s as potential culprits: citrus, carbonated drinks, caffeine, and chocolate. These are well-known bladder irritants that can trigger bladder leaks. Making the appropriate diet swaps and eliminating some of these triggers may help you gain more control over your bladder and reduce the likelihood of bladder leaks.
Aging: As age progresses, it is natural for the muscles supporting your bladder to become weaker; this increases the likelihood of incontinence occurring. Both age and the weakening of bladder muscles increase the pressure on the bladder tissue, and consequently, most people begin to experience involuntary leakages of urine once they age.
Incontinence can cause physical and emotional problems if not managed or treated properly. Therefore, it is important to be aware of age-related effects on bladder muscle strength so that early signs and symptoms of incontinence can be identified and taken care of promptly.
Damage: The pelvic floor muscles are essential for overall pelvic health. Located at the bottom of the pelvic cavity, these muscles act as a supportive base for your bladder. If the pelvic floor muscles become weakened or damaged, it can cause urinary incontinence. This means that you may not be able to hold in your urine and could even experience dribbling when coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
To help maintain pelvic health and muscle strength, there are a variety of exercises that can help to strengthen and support pelvic floor muscles. Performing exercises regularly can reduce your chances of dealing with incontinence caused by pelvic floor muscle damage.
Enlarged Prostate: The prostate gland plays an important role in men’s health. Located around the neck of the bladder, this gland secretes a fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
Unfortunately, enlarged prostates are a common problem as one ages, leading to difficulty urinating and even causing incontinence. Incontinence is not uncommon once your prostate becomes enlarged and has been known to reduce an individual’s quality of life drastically. It is important for your overall health to maintain good lifestyle habits as well as monitor your prostate health with regular check-ups due to the potential risk enlarged prostates can cause.
No matter what is causing your bladder leaks, addressing the issue and following through with your treatment plan can help you make those embarrassing bladder leaks a thing of the past.