Country Selector Icon


Bladder Leakage Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

A woman's surprise birthday party

Female bladder leakage occurs when the muscles around your bladder are weakened and can’t successfully close off the bladder as they should. If you’re experiencing a leaking bladder, know that you’re not alone. You likely have many questions, which is why we put together this guide to help you understand the causes of bladder leaks, the signs and symptoms, as well as tips to prevent or stop leaks.

What is Bladder Leakage?

Bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence, is the involuntary release of urine from the bladder. This can be as mild as occasional little spurts when laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, or as intense as regularly voiding a full bladder of urine.

What Causes Bladder Leakage in Women?

The three types of urinary incontinence and main causes of bladder leaking are:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence

A combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence is known as mixed incontinence.

Most Common Risk Factors of Bladder Leakages

Women are exposed to a high number of risk factors for bladder leaks, including:

  • Pregnancy – The weight of carrying a fetus stresses the pelvic floor and can lead to stress incontinence during pregnancy and after.
  • Childbirth – Tissue or nerve damage that occurs during childbirth can affect the pelvic floor.
  • Menopause – Changing hormones during menopause contribute to the deterioration of the pelvic floor, as well as the lining of the bladder and urinary tract.
  • Weight gain – Many women gain weight as they age due to hormonal changes and this can exert enough pressure on the pelvic floor to weaken it.

Other risk factors, not particular to women, include:

  • Smoking – Smoking can cause chronic coughing that exerts undue pressure on the pelvic floor.
  • High-impact activities like running or jumping over many years – Prolonged impact on the pelvic floor from these types of activities can weaken it.

Bladder Leakage at Night

Bladder leakage at night can happen whether or not you feel the urge to go, so you may not always know beforehand that you have to use the bathroom. This means you may even wake up to wet sheets. Read this article on nocturia and incontinence at night to help you understand more about bladder leaks at night and treatment options.

Bladder Leakage Solutions, Treatments & Remedies

1. Stay on a schedule
Make a drink schedule
Though it may be tempting to drastically limit fluid intake for fear of leaking urine, this is not advised. Don’t limit fluids to the point of dehydration. Instead, drink prescribed amounts throughout the day in order to avoid overstressing your bladder with a large amount of fluid all at once.

Make a ‘go’ schedule
Keeping your bladder empty will go a long way in reducing little bladder leaks throughout the day. Use the bathroom on a fixed schedule, say every two hours. Be sure to go whether or not you feel the need to. That way you can reduce your chances of a bladder leak if you find yourself laughing, coughing, or lifting with a full bladder.

2. Get moving
Losing weight can help ease bladder leakage by removing one of its root causes – being overweight. Even a daily walk around the block to get moving can go a long way in shedding some extra pounds. Learn more about how obesity and diabetes can cause incontinence and bladder leakage.

3. Pelvic floor exercises
Bladder leakage in women is most often caused by weakened pelvic muscles floor. But your pelvic floor can be strengthened. Your pelvic floor is a system of muscles, nerves, and ligaments that acts like a supportive basket for your bladder, uterus and anus. Kegel exercises involve flexing and releasing the muscles used to hold in urine, so they get stronger. Performing Kegel exercises, such as squats, bridges and certain yoga poses three times a day as part of your daily routine will help alleviate bladder leakage over time.

If you want to find out more, read our complete guide on pelvic floor exercises.

4. Wear bladder leakage pads and underwear
Many women turn to menstrual pads for bladder leaks because they are familiar and may still be kept around the house. However, menstrual pads are not the best product to manage the leakage of urine. A better option is urinary incontinence liners, pads or underwear like those from Always Discreet. Not only do they fit smoothly and comfortably under your clothing for no-one-needs-to-know protection, they are wrapped in feminine, resealable wrappers so you can stash them discreetly in your purse and easily dispose of them.

- Compare Products for Bladder Leaks
- Take a quiz to choose the best protection

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Bladder Leaks

How do you bring up urinary incontinence to your doctor? And what do you say? Here’s a helpful guide to get the conversation going!

An easy way to begin the conversation is describing the bladder issues you are experiencing. For example, you could start by saying, “I pee a little when I laugh or cough,” or, “I wake up with wet sheets,” or even simply, “My bladder leaks.”

Every healthcare professional will tell you that the more information, the better. A good diagnosis depends largely on the information you can give your doctor when you talk. The questions listed below can help facilitate a productive conversation about your sensitive bladder with your doctor that will allow you to start discussing next steps.

  • When do you experience urinary losses?
  • How often do you urinate each day?
  • How often do you get up during the night to use the restroom?
  • How much liquid do you drink daily?
  • Do you experience unexpected leaks? Do you leak when you sneeze, cough or exercise?
  • Do bladder leaks prevent you from participating at work or in your social life?

Your healthcare professional may also decide to perform a physical examination. They may be looking to inspect the way your abdomen contracts. They may also check the firmness of your pelvic floor when you cough.

The Diagnosis

Based on your talk, your doctor will probably be able to diagnose the possible causes of your incontinence and which types of urinary incontinence you’re experiencing. From there, you can work together to find sensitive bladder solutions that work for you.