An estimated nine million people in the UK experience bladder weakness and the popular misconception is that it is only related to the ageing process, this is not necessarily the case.
Bladder weakness is more prevalent in women than in men, with one in three adults experiencing bladder control problems at some point in their lives.
There are different types of bladder weakness, also known as urinary incontinence, depending on the cause.
Stress incontinence Stress incontinence is the most common form of bladder weakness. It is caused by physical stress to your pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder and bowel. Leakage can occur as a result of laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercise or even when lifting heavy objects, because these activities cause an increase in abdominal pressure.
It can also be triggered during pregnancy. Hormonal changes occurring after the menopause are also known to contribute.
Urge incontinence occurs due to an overactive bladder, which causes involuntary muscle spasms that force urine out of the bladder. Urge incontinence causes a sudden feeling for the need to use the toilet, or a feeling that a person can't reach the bathroom in time. Some people may experience both stress incontinence and urge incontinence at different times.
Overﬂow & drip incontinence Overflow/drip incontinence is most common in men. It is caused when the bladder doesn't empty completely, so urine starts to build up and muscles become weak, leading to urine loss drop by drop with little sensation or warning.
Neurogenic incontinence occurs through damage to the nerves supplying the urinary system. Damage can occur accidentally, sometimes through surgery, or may be associated with degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.
Pelvic muscle exercises Stress incontinence - can be improved greatly by exercising the pelvic ﬂoor muscles. These are called pelvic muscle exercises or Kegel exercises; they strengthen the muscles near the urethra, and take only a few minutes a day.
Bladder training Training the bladder to hold urine better can also decrease the urge to urinate. Following a timetable to store and release urine strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
Losing weight and keeping active Sometimes extra weight causes bladder control problems. A good meal plan and exercise programme can lead to weight loss.
Eating and drinking the right things Certain food and drink make urine control harder. These include caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) and alcohol.
Bladder weakness pads and pants are available in all shapes and sizes. A crucial aspect of staying in control of bladder weakness is ensuring the correct protection products are used. Some are suitable for slight leakage whilst others are more absorbent.
Prescription medicines Your GP can prescribe several different medicines that can help with bladder control problems.
Choosing carefully More than two million people in the UK use the wrong product to cope with bladder weakness, resorting to feminine products, which are simply not designed to cope with urine. Bladder weakness pads are speciﬁcally designed to deal with bladder weakness, they help to neutralise and protect against embarrassing odours, and keep wetness locked away.
For further advice on bladder weakness consult your local community pharmacy.
The information provided on this website does not replace medical advice.
If you want to find out more, or are worried about any medical issue or symptoms that you may be experiencing, please contact your local community pharmacist or see your doctor