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Bladder Leaks & Understanding Bladder Weakness

Learn all about the symptoms, causes and treatments.

Regardless of age, bladder weakness is more common than you might think and there are plenty of ways to manage the situation — no need to panic! Bladder weakness typically results in bladder leaks, otherwise known as urinary incontinence. It often manifests as a few drips and dribbles, but can also result in significant urine loss. But no matter your situation, you can still have a great quality of life with the right treatments, products and lifestyle choices. Here’s everything you need to know about bladder weakness.

Bladder weakness symptoms

Bladder weakness is characterised by the involuntary loss of urine. However, the symptoms vary from person to person. To identify if you are experiencing bladder weakness, you should pay careful attention to the symptoms below:

  • The sudden urge to urinate even if the bladder isn’t full
  • Unintentional urine leaks, including drips and dribbles
  • Frequent urination (more than usual)
  • The constant urge to pee, even if the bladder is empty
  • Needing to wake up at night to use the toilet (nocturia)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be helpful to keep a bladder diary to track how many times you head to the toilet in a day and how much urine is produced. For convenience, you can simply take note of this on your mobile phone. The diary will assist healthcare providers to rule out any underlying medical conditions and suggest treatment options. We also suggest including maternity pads and wipes on your maternity hospital bag checklist.

Bladder weakness causes

There are several conditions that bladder weakness could be a sign of. If you’re unsure of exactly why you’re experiencing bladder leaks, you can chat with your doctor or gynaecologist about some of the conditions listed below. All of them are potential causes of bladder leaks.

List of potential bladder weakness causes

  • Weak pelvic floor muscles/sphincter muscles
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Yeast infections
  • Vaginal infection
  • A blocked or obstructed bladder
  • Bladder defects from birth
  • Spinal injuries
  • A fistula (abnormal hole/tunnel-like passage) near the bladder
  • Incontinence caused by medications like diuretics and sedatives

Each of the conditions that cause bladder leaks vary in seriousness and affect the body in different ways. Although it can be tempting to search every corner of the internet to self-diagnose your loss of bladder control, rather consult a qualified health professional.

Pregnancy bladder leaks

Bladder leaks are common in pregnancy as the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder. *More than a third of pregnant women experience bladder leaks in the second and third trimesters. Pregnancy also results in hormonal changes that relax the muscles in the pelvic area, potentially weakening the bladder. Many pregnant women report having bladder leaks after laughing, coughing, sneezing or exercising. In addition, postpartum bladder leaks and light incontinence are very common as the process of giving birth can further weaken the pelvic floor muscles, especially in the case of vaginal births. 

We know that bladder leaks during and after pregnancy can be a frustrating experience. For some of us, it prompts feelings of shame, anxiety and loss of control, especially if you leak unexpectedly in public. But realistically, light incontinence is so common that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re experiencing this, consider some quality pads and pantyliners.

Lil-Lets Maternity Pantyliners and Pads are absorbent, soft and designed to easily attach to your underwear. Use them before and after childbirth to keep you feeling dry, comfortable and fresh, while you focus on this new and exciting time in your life.

Bladder weakness treatment

The best treatment for bladder weakness varies depending on the individual and the underlying cause of their incontinence. For example, pelvic floor muscle exercises might be effective for light bladder leaks caused by stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, pregnancy incontinence or postpartum incontinence. *Up to 50% of women experience pelvic floor and abdominal weakness after pregnancy. 

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for medical advice and to determine the best course of treatment. They’ll typically recommend a combination of treatments or refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. Urologists and physiotherapists are commonly involved in the management of bladder leaks. They offer services such as a pelvic floor muscle assessment, an abdominal muscle exam, postural screenings and screenings for any bladder, bowel or sexual dysfunction.

How to stop bladder leaks

There are plenty of proven methods that help to control or stop bladder weakness. We recommend trying out a couple of them and seeing what works for you. You can start with easier lifestyle changes like cutting out caffeine. And if you find that you’re still dealing with bladder leaks, consult a doctor to learn more about medication and procedures that could help.

Lifestyle changes and procedures to stop bladder weakness

  • Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practise pelvic floor exercises/bladder control exercises
  • Practise bladder training by slowly increasing the amount of time between each visit to the loo
  • Take pharmacist/doctor-prescribed medications that improve bladder control
  • Receive electrical nerve stimulation where electrical impulses are delivered to the pelvic muscles to strengthen them
  • Have a pessary device inserted in the vagina to support the bladder and urethra. Pessaries are safe to use in pregnancy
  • Undergo surgery to repair damage or abnormalities that result in bladder leakage

It may be tempting to manage bladder weakness by limiting your water consumption, but this is certainly not a good idea. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of hydrating fluids to maintain your bladder’s capacity and stay healthy.

Bladder control exercises

Bladder control exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, are a great way to help strengthen the bladder muscles. As we know, general exercise is so important for physical and mental well-being, so why is this any different when it comes to your pelvic floor? Strengthening this part of your body can really improve any bladder weakness you may be experiencing! These exercises are easy to do and can be done in the privacy of your own home. Before getting started, make sure you've gone to the loo and you’re in some comfy workout clothing (even an oversized shirt and leggings will do).

7 common bladder weakness exercises

  • Kegel exercises: Contract and relax the muscles that control the flow of urine. To do this, imagine you’re sitting on a marble and you need to lift it by squeezing the muscles in your bum cheeks together. Tense your stomach muscles at the same time as you “lift the marble”
  • Bridge: Lay on your back with your knees bent and lift your pelvis towards the ceiling
  • Lunges: Step forward with one foot and bend the knee, while keeping the other foot behind
  • Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and partially crouch down as if you were sitting on a chair
  • Leg raises: Lay on your back and lift one leg at a time, keeping the knee straight

These exercises work by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, helping to reduce the chances of bladder leaks. By doing these exercises regularly, you can improve your bladder control and reduce the frequency of leaking urine. There’s also the added bonus of improving your overall health and mobility through physical activity. You can take control of your bladder and your body in just a few weeks. After 4 to 6 weeks, you should start to notice improvements.

Try our super absorbent incontinence pads and pantyliners for protection against bladder leaks

SmartFit™ Lil-Lets Drylock Regular Incontinence Pads

SmartFit™ Lil-Lets Drylock Regular Incontinence Pantyliners

SmartFit™ Lil-Lets Drylock Long Incontinence Pantyliners

Myths and stigmas about bladder leaks

In a series of polls carried out by YouGov in 2018, it was discovered that **a third of people believe that urinary incontinence only affects elderly women. But the reality is that it does occur amongst young adults too, typically in the form of light drips and dribbles. We simply need to create safe spaces to talk about bladder weakness more openly and ensure that people understand how to manage and treat the condition. 

Another 2018 YouGov poll revealed that only **10% of women had openly discussed their incontinence with a friend or family member. For us, the goal is to start the conversation and encourage others to do the same in their circles. This way, people will feel comfortable seeking out the products and treatments they need.

Take back control: Our final thoughts on weakness

Long story short, bladder leaks are super common and can be manageable. You can still enjoy a wonderfully fulfilling life with the condition. But let's be real, no matter how much we prepare ourselves, sometimes our bladders just have a mind of their own. That’s why it helps to have your bladder weakness diagnosed by a healthcare professional and start an effective treatment programme to get you on the right track. 

From pelvic floor exercises to cutting out alcohol, there are so many options to try. In the meantime, Lil-Lets has your back with our premium maternity range — ideal for the light bladder leaks and postpartum bleeding that you may experience pre-birth and post-birth.


*https://utswmed.org/medblog/leakage-incontinence-during-after-pregnancy [Accessed: 18 January 2023]
**https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/womens-incontinence-myths-stigma-b1868540.html [Accessed: 25 January 2023]

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