Female bladder leakage occurs when the muscles around your bladder are weakened and can’t successfully close off the bladder as they should. There are a number of different types of bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence. The most common types of incontinence that may be causing you to leak urine are:
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Overflow incontinence
Stress Incontinence is the most common type of female bladder leakage. When pressure is exerted on the bladder, urine is involuntarily released, leaving you damp. Sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects and exercise are the most likely activities to cause stress incontinence and urine leakage.
Stress incontinence is caused by a weakened pelvic floor – the system of muscles, nerves and ligaments that support the bladder and urethra. A woman’s body goes through many wonderful things throughout her lifetime. However, a lot of them, like pregnancy and childbirth, strain the pelvic floor, leaving it stretched and weakened. Weight gain and the hormonal changes of menopause can also contribute to this type of bladder leakage.
Performing Kegel exercises strengthens the pelvic floor muscles so they are better able to hold in urine and prevent bladder leakage in women. Read our article here all about pelvic floor exercises.
Excess weight puts a strain on the pelvic floor, which makes it weaker. Shedding some pounds will go a long way to easing stress incontinence. This doesn’t call for anything drastic. Something as simple as incorporating a morning or evening walk into your daily routine can reduce bladder leakage.
Having regular bowel movements eliminates extra and unnecessary pressure on your bladder. To stay regular, be sure to eat lots of fibre. Try eating prunes as snacks for an overactive bladder treatment that is sweet to eat and delivers an extra boost to get your system moving. This should help to reduce the frequency of urine leakages.
Smoking often leads to chronic coughing, also known as smokers’ cough. Coughing puts a strain on the pelvic floor and can aggravate your bladder muscles, leading to bladder leakage. Each time you cough, it can trigger little urine leakages. Leading a healthy lifestyle will alleviate symptoms of stress incontinence.
Urge Incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is characterised by a strong and sudden urge to urinate that often results in leaking a significant amount of urine. There can often be such urgency to urinate that women don’t make it to the toilet in time and experience a gush of urine. People with urge incontinence find themselves running to the loo as much as eight times a day, and also often wake up in the middle of the night to go.
Urge incontinence is caused by nerve or muscle damage to the bladder and the surrounding tissues. This creates spasms in the bladder wall, inducing a continuous and uncomfortable urge to urinate. Damage to other parts of the nervous system can also play a part, especially when there’s a glitch in the communication between the bladder and the brain signalling the right time to go. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and stroke can cause damage that leads to urge incontinence. Some medications can also play a role.
- Adopt a bladder-healthy diet
Certain foods can irritate your bladder. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and fizzy beverages.
Train your bladder by making a ‘go schedule’ in which you use the toilet on a fixed schedule – say, every hour at first – whether or not you feel the urge to urinate. Once you feel comfortable with your schedule, try increasing the amount of time between each scheduled toilet trip. Not only will this help to retrain your bladder, it can also reduce the urgency you feel when you have to urinate.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, it is important to drink water if you have urge incontinence. The high acidity of over-concentrated urine can aggravate your bladder, making your condition worse. Drink plenty of water to keep your urine dilute. You’ll know you’re getting it right when your urine is pale yellow or clear.
If you have tried the above remedies without much success, it may be time to talk to your doctor about going on medication to help ease the symptoms of urge incontinence.
Overflow Incontinence is the result of not being able to completely empty the bladder, leading to dribbles of bladder leakage throughout the day. For women with overflow incontinence, the bladder never fully empties, leaving some urine in the bladder. This can increase your likelihood of urinary tract infections.
This type of bladder leakage usually happens as a result of a blockage or weak bladder muscles that prevent the bladder from fully emptying or from signalling that it is full. Overflow incontinence is the only type of urinary incontinence that is more common in men than in women, although women can still have it. In women, weak bladder muscles, a blocked urethra, pelvic organ prolapse, scar tissue or kidney stones can cause overflow incontinence.
Catheterisation involves threading a thin, flexible plastic tube through your urethra up into your bladder in order to drain any remaining urine. This serves to alleviate the pressure put on the bladder when it is over full or fails to empty. Catheterisation can either be intermittent or fixed. It should always be under the guidance of a medical professional.
Surgery can be performed to remove any physical blockage in the bladder that is causing the overflow incontinence.
Staying dry and comfortable
Regardless of what type of female bladder leakage you may have, stay dry and confident with ALWAYS DISCREET liners, pads and underwear. The super-absorbent core turns liquid and odours to gel to keep you dry. Have the confidence to go where you want when you want without all the worry about bladder leaks.