About Bladder Leakage

“I was so relieved to find out it was a medical condition that could be fixed”
– Tina

Bladder leakage, or urine leakage, is common. If you struggle with bladder leakage, you are not alone.

  • Bladder leakage does not discriminate and affects both men and women; however, women are two times more likely to be affected.1
  • Approximately 18 million women in the U.S. suffer from bladder leakage2
  • Bladder leakage occurs in 25% of women over the age of 18.2
  • 80% of those affected by bladder leakage can be cured or improved.3
  • While older individuals are more likely to be affected by bladder leakage, it still occurs to younger women.4

How does the bladder work?

To better understand bladder leakage, it helps to know how the urinary system works. Urinary function starts with your brain and spinal cord, which work together to direct the urinary system.

When your urinary system is functioning normally, you are able to control when to hold and release urine. When your bladder becomes full, it sends a signal to your brain, which in turn sends a message to the bladder to release urine into the urethra. The urethral sphincter muscle, which surrounds the urethra, opens and closes the bladder neck – it will contract to temporarily hold urine, or release itself to let urine out of the urethra and your body.

There can be several reasons why your bladder stops functioning correctly. Your brain may no longer properly signal the bladder, the sphincters do not squeeze strongly enough, or both. Alternatively, there could be a problem with the bladder muscle itself or the nerves that control these muscles where the muscle either contracts too much, or not enough. 5

How does the bladder work and what causes bladder leakage

What causes bladder leakage?

Sometimes there are very evident causes for bladder leakage such as in cases of pregnancy, surgery or accidental injury. Other times it can be much less defined with no clear answer as to the cause. 6

  • Genetics: Studies have found that there is increasing evidence that bladder leakage is related to a person’s genetics. If someone in your family has bladder function issues, it is more likely that you will as well.7
  • Pelvic floor disorders: Women’s pelvic floor muscles hold up the pelvic organs, including the vagina, cervix, uterus, bladder, urethra, intestines and rectum. 8 If these muscles and tissue weaken, it can lead to bladder leakage, accidental bowel leakage and pelvic organ prolapse. 9
  • Pregnancy and childbirth: During pregnancy, the fetus can add extra pressure to the bladder.10 During the delivery of a child, the nerves and muscles that control urinary function can also become damaged.10
  • Lifestyle choices: Caffeine, smoking and obesity all have been linked as potential causes of bladder leakage. 1

Several factors can cause bladder leakage in females. Bladder leakage can develop slowly or be the result of a specific life event. Pressure on the bladder during pregnancy or stress on the pelvis during pregnancy can lead to bladder leakage. Genetics can also play a role, so if someone in your family experiences bladder leakage, you are even more at risk. Caffeine, smoking, and obesity have also all been linked to potential causes of bladder leakage.

The first step to finding a solution for bladder leakage is to consult a physician who can properly diagnose you. This specialist will help determine what kind of bladder leakage you are suffering from (stress urinary incontinence, urge or mixed) and what treatment options may be best for you. Treatments can include lifestyle changes, pelvic floor muscle exercises or surgical procedures.

There are a variety of exercises and treatments to help prevent urine leakage caused by stress urinary incontinence, including pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle changes, and surgical procedures.

Bladder leakage when sneezing, peeing or coughing could be a symptom of stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which results from a weakening of the muscles surrounding the pelvic area — known as the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle changes, and even surgery can help reduce bladder leakage.