A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

7 causes of urinary incontinence

UTI bathroom sign - urinary incontinence

No one likes to talk about it, but urinary incontinence happens. In fact, it happens to a great number of people.

No one likes to talk about it, but urinary incontinence happens. In fact, it happens to a great number of people—perhaps much greater than you thought. If you’re experiencing urgency, frequency, and discomfort when urinating, you’re not alone. Let’s dig into the 7 common causes of urinary incontinence and learn what might be causing your symptoms.

  1. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)

UTIs can lead to short-term urinary incontinence that causes you to leak urine because the walls of your bladder become inflamed and don’t function as well as they could. As soon as symptoms such as abdominal pain, cloudy, dark, or bloody urine, or a persistent urge to urinate appear, schedule a visit with your doctor and help keep incontinence at bay.

  1. Certain Foods and Drinks

Some foods contain chemical compounds that stimulate your bladder and increase the amount of urine you produce, and can sometimes cause incontinence in excessive amounts. Using the following foods in moderation – or avoiding them completely – are a boost for your bladder (and your confidence).

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Large amounts of caffeine
  1. Pregnancy and Childbirth 

Experienced moms know that pregnancy causes otherwise-normal bodily functions to become altogether erratic. A growing baby can put pressure on your bladder while you’re pregnant and cause temporary incontinence, or stress incontinence, as can the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. Childbirth also increases your risk for urinary incontinence, whether you have the baby vaginally or via C-section. Luckily, it’s usually temporary and likely to subside after your baby is born. Whew!

  1. Menopause

A drop in estrogen levels during menopause often makes the bladder muscles work harder to store urine. Many women experience leakage when laughing, sneezing, coughing, or while lifting heavy objects. Talk to your doctor about remedies that may include exercises like Kegels, medication, surgery, or lifestyle modifications that will get you on your way to relief and comfort.

  1. Age 

As you age, bladder muscles can become weaker and lose their capacity to store urine. For many elderly patients, leakage tends to occur during overnight sleep and is perceived as a “normal” part of aging. Be sure to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider you trust, as there are treatments that can significantly improve or cure incontinence at any age.

  1. Obstruction 

Bladder or bowel obstructions such as stones and tumors can prohibit your bladder from operating the way it should and may result in incontinence. Document any unusual symptoms such as prolonged constipation and abdominal pressure or pain, and schedule an appointment with your doctor.

  1. Neurological Problems 

Neurological problems or diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s may interfere with the signals your brain sends to your bladder, resulting in incontinence. Regular bathroom breaks and easy access to supplies in case of an accident can help both the patient and the caregiver.

If you’re struggling with one of these causes of urinary incontinence, don’t wait! Talk to your health care provider to isolate the cause and figure out a plan of attack. This conversation could make all the difference in your health and everyday life. Give us a call today and we’ll help determine what’s causing your urinary problems and find a treatment option that works for you.

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