If you are a woman and you’ve peed your pants after sneezing, take heart…you are not alone. Many women experience this common and sometimes embarrassing problem. Here are 7 easy ways to end your leaky bladder for good.
What is leaky bladder?
Leaky bladder is when you are unable to control your bladder or when you leak urine. Urine is stored in your bladder and held there until you need to release the pressure. When this happens, the bladder muscles tighten and force urine out through the urethra. Urinary incontinence (UI) occurs when the bladder muscles tighten to release urine involuntarily, and it can be incredibly difficult or impossible to hold back. This could follow sneezing, laughing, exercising, or simply a strong urge to urinate. Usually, just a small amount of urine is released; however, certain cases of urinary incontinence could force you to empty your bladder entirely. Unfortunately, this is usually nowhere near a toilet.
How common is leaky bladder?
Contrary to what you may think, leaky bladder is actually fairly common among women. In fact, UI affects 10% of American women under the age of 65 and 35% of those older than 65. Though men can also experience leaky bladder, women are far more likely to struggle with this treatable condition due to life events such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
Reasons for leaky bladder
- Urinary tract infection
- Changes with age
- Enlarged prostate (in men)
- Prostate cancer (in men)
- Obstruction from urinary stones
- Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, a brain tumor or a spinal injury)
Types of leaky bladder
Not all leaky bladders are the same; however, most fit into one of the following categories.
Stress incontinence- This is when urine leaks out after you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, jumping, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy — usually the form of urinary incontinence among younger women.
Going through childbirth, smoking, or being overweight can all increase your risk of stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence- This is a sudden, intense urge to urinate that usually occurs many times throughout the day. It is followed by an involuntary loss of urine and could be caused by anything from an infection to a neurologic disorder or diabetes. It is also the primary form of incontinence among older women.
Overflow incontinence- You pee frequently but are unable to fully empty your bladder, leading to leaks throughout the day.
Functional incontinence- A physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet or unbuttoning your pants in time. Common among those with Arthritis, Parkinson’s, and the elderly.
Mixed incontinence- You experience multiple forms of incontinence.
Is it treatable?
Contrary to what many people believe, suffering from leaky bladder is not an inevitable consequence of aging or childbirth. In fact, there are many ways to alleviate your urinary incontinence and cut back on awkward incidents at the grocery store or sporting event.
Ways to end leaky bladder
These easy lifestyle changes could help reverse or prevent UI.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet with lots of fiber to help prevent constipation
- Stop smoking (or don’t start)
- Lift heavy objects with your legs to avoid straining
- Avoid drinks and foods that are known bladder irritants such as caffeine, citrus fruits and juices, artificial sweeteners, and alcoholic drinks.
- Practice daily kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor
- Stay hydrated, but don’t drink too much water after dinner
Consider purchasing absorbent pads if you struggle with frequent leaky bladder as these could give you a chance to change clothes without experiencing wet pants.
Seek medical help
Though at-home options usually prove helpful, sever UI may require medical intervention. Many doctors will suggest the use of medical implants or surgery. These options could be incredibly helpful, but be sure to ask questions to make sure the treatment is what’s best for you. Don’t be embarrassed to speak with your healthcare provider about options to help treat bladder leakage.
Though urinary incontinence isn’t usually a severe health concern, it can eventually begin to impact your work, social life, and romantic life, if persistent. Get a handle on it today and reclaim your life!