Did you know that one in four 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 learn quickly 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, what causes a weak bladder and how to fix, or at the very least, manage it, should be a priority so that your lifestyle is impacted as minimally as possible.
There are 3 main types of incontinence including:
Having a weak bladder is something that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about. It’s very manageable and very common with around 4% of all adults and 25% of all women over 40 having suffered from some kind of incontinence.
If your bladder leakage is light, it’s quite simple to manage with the use of incontinence products like the Depend® range of guards and underwear specifically designed for urinary incontinence. You can also be prepared for mishaps by keeping a change of clothes and underwear handy just in case.
This is the old ‘How long is a piece of string?’ question. There’s lots of potential causes of a weak bladder and subsequent bladder leakage. They can range from weakened pelvic muscles from childbirth, to bladder or prostate cancer.
Nine times out of ten though, your bladder leaks purely and simply because your pelvic floor muscles have weakened over time because of pregnancy, childbirth and the onset of menopause.
Here are some of the other things that can lead to bladder leakage:
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.
As you can see from the long list above, there are many things that can cause a weak bladder and subsequently lead to bladder leakage. Consequently, 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 can, in some cases, may be cured altogether.
However, if you find the following methods aren’t helping, there may be another underlying medical problem affecting your particular instance 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 the Depend® or Poise® range of incontinence products. It doesn’t matter if your bladder leakage is light or quite heavy, Poise® and Depend® products have you covered with everything from liners to underwear.
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 a mainstay 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 your 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.
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.
This is a flexible silicone ring inserted into your vagina where it pushes up on the vaginal wall and urethra to help support the bladder and uterus. A doctor or nurse can fit one for you, but you’ll need regular check ups to make sure it doesn't irritate your vagina.
This painless process involves delivering gentle volts of electricity, through a vaginal probe to activate and strengthen pelvic-floor muscles. Sometimes, (and used only for urge incontinence), a device is implanted under the skin of the upper buttock to stimulate the sacral nerve, which connects to the bladder and pelvic floor.
If things don’t improve with bladder training, there are some medications called antimuscarinics (also called anticholinergics) which your doctor may recommend.
The drugs work by blocking certain nerve impulses to the bladder, which in turn relaxes the bladder muscle, thereby increasing the bladder’s capacity.
It works well if you take the medication in combination 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 six months and then stop the medication altogether to see how symptoms are without the medication.
By combining a course of medication with bladder training, the long-term outlook may be better and symptoms may be less likely to return when you stop the medication.
Kimberly-Clark Australia 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.