Types and causes of urinary incontinence
If you constantly feel like you’ve peed your pants, first of all, we want you to know you are not alone, girlfriend. It is the worst, isn’t it? Not only is it totally embarrassing and uncomfortable, it can also cause a lot of concern. Why is this happening? What can I do about it? How do I hide it? I mean, we used to joke about using padded underwear when we were teens and now suddenly, we need it? Ugh.
But don’t worry. There are some things you can do to help control bladder leakage and different types of urinary incontinence, so you can deal with it and have a great day.
What Causes Bladder Leakage?
Understanding why your bladder is leaking can help you figure out how to stop it. Here are some of the most common reasons for bladder leakage:
Pregnancy and childbirth. So many of us understand the “sneeze pee.” You know, when you’re pregnant or just had a baby and you sneeze and…yup, you pee your pants? Be patient with yourself if this is happening. Glory in the fact that your body has changed a whole lot to get a child here. Bladder leakage with pregnancy is not unusual and usually goes away after a few months postpartum.
Structure of your urinary tract. Sometimes it’s just the way we’re made. Bladder leakage is more common in females because of the way our urinary tracts are made. I know—it’s annoying. Feel free to remind the men in your life just how great they have it.
Disease. Unfortunately, there are several diseases that make it difficult for the nerves that control your bladder to keep functioning. Diabetes, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (MS) for example, can damage nerves and make you more prone to leakage.
Poor kidney function. This is usually associated with aging. If you are constantly leaking or dealing with multiple urinary tract infections, talk to your doctor. This could indicate a more serious problem.
- Medications. If you just started a new medication and your bladder starting leaking around the same time, talk to your doctor. You might be able to switch to something else or adjust your dosage.
Five Types Of Urinary Incontinence
If you don’t feel like any of the above reasons fit you, maybe consider the type of bladder leakage you’re dealing with. That might help you narrow down the reasons you’re constantly feeling like you wet your pants.
Stress incontinence—this explains bladder leakage when coughing, bladder leaking when sneezing, and bladder leakage with exercising. This is really common in women who gave birth vaginally. Even bending, lifting, or laughing can cause your bladder to leak (so annoying when you pick up your baby at the park and feel like you peed your pants).
Urge incontinence—when you feel like you constantly have to pee, and it’s hard to get the bathroom in time. This can be caused by an overactive bladder, which is super common in both men and women as we age.
Overflow incontinence—in other words, you can’t empty your bladder when you use the restroom. So, you either leak all day or you’re constantly visiting the loo. You might feel like you’re “dribbling urine” all day.
Functional incontinence—not to say that your bladder isn’t functioning properly, but that the rest of your body isn’t functioning properly enough to get you to the bathroom on time. If you can’t get your body to the toilet or you can’t communicate this need soon enough to prevent an accident, you have functional incontinence. This is most common in the elderly or with people with diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
- Mixed incontinence—exactly what it sounds like: a combination of a few types seen above.
How To Control Bladder Leakage
It’s important to remember that these suggestions will not cure your bladder leakage, especially if you deal with another disease that causes incontinence. But they can only help! With that in mind, here are our top five tips for how to control bladder leakage:
Pelvic floor exercises. Yes! You can strengthen those muscles! Kegel muscles are the muscles that support your bladder. Even if you’re not struggling with bladder leakage right now, practicing these bladder leakage exercises can make a huge difference for when you’re aging.
One of the easiest ways to strengthen your Kegels is to pretend you need to go pee but stop it. Or mimic tightening your vagina around a tampon. Keep all your other muscles relaxed so you can focus on them.
Keep a healthy weight. Eat well and exercise, and keep your body at your optimal weight (talk to your doctor or a licensed dietician to figure this one out.)
Avoid foods that initiate your bladder. Caffeine, alcohol, and acidic foods are known to bother your bladder. Give yourself a break by limiting your intake.
Eat more fiber! Find foods that are high in fiber and include them in your diet daily. Our favorites? Apples, avocados, popcorn, whole grains, and berries.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, do your best to quit. If you don’t, never start!
Urinary Incontinence Treatments
If it’s bad enough, your doctor might suggest treatment for your bladder leakage. While none of them sound as pleasant as a bubble bath, taking care of the problem can bring such relief. Here are some of the solutions your doctor might discuss with you:
Physical therapy. If your Kegel exercises at home just aren’t cutting it, then a physical therapist might be able to help you isolate those pelvic floor muscles and make a difference.
Botox injections. Seriously—it can help those muscles and treat urgency incontinence.
Sling procedure. Yes—like a sling for a twisted wrist. A sling is placed under the urethra to stop stress incontinence.
- Bladder leakage products. Your doctor might suggest using pads, incontinence underwear, or even plastic pants over your underwear to help prevent leaking.
It’s hard to know what the “best” treatment is for bladder incontinence if you don’t visit a doctor. By all means, try all the DIYs and ideas we gave you or your girlfriends suggest, but if you are still struggling, please visit your doctor to get some help.
Number one thing we want you to remember—you have no reason to be ashamed. Bladder leakage is so common in women of all ages and, more often than not, takes consistent exercise and maybe a few lifestyle changes to get your bladder back to working like a pro.