Country Selector Icon


Obesity, Diabetes and Incontinence

Woman on computer doing research on obesity

How can being overweight cause an overactive bladder? Get all the details about obesity, diabetes and bladder leaks.

A sensitive bladder isn’t always an easy thing to figure out. It can be caused by many different conditions, and some risk factors just can’t be avoided, like blood sugar levels, natural hormonal changes and muscle loss due to aging and menopause, or nerve damage during pregnancy or childbirth.

Excessive weight or obesity, on the other hand, is one factor that can be managed with the right knowledge and resources.

Find out how obesity and diabetes are related to urinary incontinence and what you can do to help manage your weight, your risk of diabetes, and the chances of weight worsening your bladder leaks.

Obesity and Incontinence

Can being overweight cause incontinence? Yes, there are a number or connections to frequent urination or bladder leaks for women who are overweight.

Notice a few more pounds in a few more places? It happens to most women during pregnancy and then again in their menopausal years. But here’s how a few extra pounds can affect your sensitive bladder:

  • Carrying extra weight in the midsection of your body can increase your chances of experiencing urinary incontinence.
  • Excess weight in your abdominal area puts pressure on your bladder. This pressure can weaken or damage your pelvic floor and urethral structures, making bladder leaks more likely.
  • Accentuated by obesity, everyday actions such as sneezing, coughing or kneeling can prompt stress incontinence leaks.
  • It is estimated that 46% - 67% of obese women experience incontinence. Studies have found that weight loss can help to reduce or eliminate symptoms of an overactive bladder.

Talk to your doctor about how to reduce your weight and manage your sensitive bladder symptoms so that you can live a healthier, more active life.

Diabetes and Incontinence

Does diabetes cause incontinence? The short answer is yes, diabetes may cause more frequent and urgent urination, or even bladder leaks. Here's why. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk and the severity of a sensitive bladder, resulting in incontinence. This includes unhealthy weight, which is also correlated with Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes can cause urinary incontinence because the extra weight stresses your pelvic floor muscles. Similar to incontinence caused by obesity, you can reduce your chances of bladder leaks if you are able to maintain a healthy weight. Here are some great reasons to manage your weight, and your risk of diabetes or existing diabetes condition:

  • Diabetes can cause your blood sugar levels to elevate more than normal. Increased blood sugar can lead to increased thirst and frequent urination.
  • Diabetes increases glucose levels, and continued high glucose levels in the blood cause fluid to be pulled from tissues, increasing thirst and the need to drink. This can result in more frequent urination in women with diabetes.
  • Increased risk of bladder infections. Urinary tract infections commonly cause incontinence.
  • Diabetes can cause nerve damage, including the nerves that control the pelvic floor and bladder.
  • Some medications for diabetes can cause fluid retention or cough, worsening bladder sensitivity.
  • Diabetes during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes, increases the risk of carrying a large baby and, subsequently, places more pressure on your bladder.


An easy way to determine if obesity or diabetes is a factor affecting your urinary incontinence is to keep a journal over the course of a week. Getting an accurate obesity incontinence or diabetes incontinence diagnosis from your doctor really depends on providing the right information. By answering these questions, you can help your doctor understand if your experience is related to incontinence or another underlying condition:

  • How frequently are you urinating or experiencing bladder leaks?
  • Are you experiencing bladder leakages during the day, at night or both?
  • What happens immediately before bladder leaks occur? For example, do you laugh, kneel or sneeze?
  • Did you drink anything beforehand?
  • Were you moving around or stationary when it happened? What exactly were you doing?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Have your symptoms changed over time?

With the right information, and your commitment to weight management, you and your doctor can manage your urinary incontinence together.

Incontinence Treatment for Diabetes & Obesity

Urinary incontinence usually can’t be solved overnight, but there are a couple of things women with diabetes or obesity can do today.

  • Incontinence Protection. You can manage your bladder leaks with the right incontinence products. And that doesn’t have to mean adult diapers! Our unique Always Discreet liners,Always Discreet pad options and Always Discreet underwear are specifically designed to control overactive bladder leaks discreetly. They come in the size and absorbency you need for move-all-you-want protection, so bladder leaks feel like no big deal.

  • Diet & Fluid Intake. Discuss with your doctor the best diet to help keep your blood sugar and general fluid intake controlled. Avoid foods and beverages that irritate the bladder. Certain foods and drinks are not recommended for those dealing with incontinence, such as foods high in sugar, alcoholic beverages, citrus, caffeine and carbonated drinks.

  • Hydrate! While drinking excessive fluids can create the urge to urinate, it is especially important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Just make sure you limit your fluids before bedtime to avoid nocturia and frequent nighttime urination.

  • Exercises. Exercising is great method for weight management. Start with a simple walk around the house, your neighborhood, or while running errands. Every movement counts toward reducing those extra pounds and the pressure on the bladder. Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can improve your bladder control.

  • Make a Bathroom Schedule. Making a habit to empty your bladder on a schedule throughout the day can help with predictability and alleviate the urgency to urinate at unexpected times. You can also train your bladder by increasing the amount of time between bathroom stops.

There you have it. The connection between obesity, diabetes and incontinence, as well as ways to treat or reduce the symptoms of incontinence. Check out these other related articles for a better understanding of the types of incontinence, common causes of bladder control issues and ways to treat incontinence.