How does the bladder work?
The bladder is a muscle that sits in your pelvis, supported by pelvic muscles, that stores and releases urine. A number of features contribute to bladder control:
- Pelvic floor muscles must be strong enough to hold the bladder in place
- Sphincter muscles keep the urethra, the tube that carries urine from your body, closed
- The bladder muscle relaxes when it fills with urine and squeezes when it’s time to urinate
- Nerves carry signals from the bladder to let the brain know when the bladder is full
- Nerves carry signals from the brain to tell the bladder when it’s time to urinate
- Hormones help keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy
Poor bladder control typically occurs when one of these body systems fails to work properly.
What are the different types of bladder control problems?
Certain bladder control issues are caused by weak muscles, such as a weakened pelvic floor. Others are caused by damaged or dulled nerves. Here are the six types of urinary incontinence, also known as weak bladder control:
- Temporary incontinence – Frequent and sudden urination, caused by a change in medication or a urinary tract infection.
- Stress incontinence – Symptoms include leaking urine when you laugh, cough or sneeze. Stress incontinence occurs when your pelvic and sphincter muscles are weak, and your bladder releases urine due to sudden pressure.
- Urge incontinence – Leaking urine after a strong, sudden urge to urinate. This may be caused by nerve damage from diabetes, a stroke or other medical condition.
- Mixed incontinence – A mix of stress and urge incontinence. Symptoms include leaking urine with a sneeze or cough at one time, and a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate at another time.
- Functional incontinence – This occurs if you can’t reach the bathroom in time because you are restricted by your mobility.
- Overactive bladder – If you feel the urge to urinate eight or more times a day, you may have an overactive bladder. This can often co-occur with urge incontinence.
How is loss of bladder control treated?
Poor bladder control can be treated in a number of ways, many of which just require switching up some daily habits.
If you suffer from weak pelvic muscles…
You might like to try exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles. We have guides to help get you started.
If you need to frequently urinate…
Keep track of the times you need to urinate, note down the times of the day when you are most likely to have a bladder control problem, and make planned trips to the bathroom accordingly.
Once you have established a pattern that works for you, try stretching out the time between bathroom trips. By forcing your pelvic muscles to hold onto the urine for longer, you will gradually strengthen those muscles.
You may also notice that certain foods and drinks, such as coffee or tea, cause you to urinate more often. Consult your doctor and try restricting these from your diet.
If you find yourself making multiple trips to the bathroom at night, limit most of your drinking to the daytime.
What practical solutions are available?
Confidant products can offer a practical and affordable answer to light bladder leakage and weak bladder control. Simple to use, Confidant products are designed for use like a tampon but are reusable for up to six months, making them an excellent alternative to incontinence pads, which cost the average Australian women about $490.00 a year.