Urinary incontinence, or bladder leakage, is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine. It is a symptom or combination of symptoms related to the two functions of the lower urinary tract system: urine storage and bladder emptying. Symptoms are sometimes related to temporary or reversible conditions. Although it can be related to aging changes in our bodies, it is not the inevitable outcome of aging since many of the risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle changes.
We created this guide to help you better understand bladder leakage, and hopefully make leaks easier to manage — or even stop — every day.
Bladder leakage is pretty common. In fact, over 65 million Americans experience bladder leakage in one form or another. That’s about 1 in 4 adults, so you’re definitely not alone. Yet, women are 3x more likely to experience urine leakage symptoms than men.*
Something else you may not know: Almost half of the adults experiencing bladder leakage are under the age of 50. There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed when educating yourself about these symptoms since there are many resources and ways to help you achieve your desired quality of life.
*Kimberly-Clark internal research.
Some causes include weak bladder muscles, complications after childbirth and surgery. But as we mentioned before, bladder leakage isn’t a disease. Often times, modifying everyday habits and lifestyle changes can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. If the symptoms persist and become very bothersome, please do not hesitate to consult with your primary physician or ob-gyn doctor.
In order to store urine and empty the bladder normally, your pelvic floor muscles and the nerve systems that control bladder function must work together to hold urine and release it under your brain’s control. This complex orchestration of organs, muscles and nerve systems can be susceptible to getting timing and/or signals scrambled. The following are the risk factors for women in rank order:
Lower urinary tract symptoms consist of three groups of symptoms: urine storage, bladder emptying (while urinating) and post-bladder emptying (immediately after urinating). While there are several kinds of bladder leakage, the most common relate to storage symptoms. Specifically, these are:
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): Involuntary leakage that occurs when pressure (due to effort or exertion) is suddenly placed on your bladder. This could happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise or lift a heavy item.
Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI): A sudden, intense urge to urinate with, or followed by, urine leakage.
Mixed Urinary Incontinence (MUI): When you experience both Stress and Urge Urinary Incontinence.
Overactive Bladder (OAB): A chronic condition of the bladder that causes sudden urges to urinate due to bladder muscle contractions.
Nocturia: A condition in which you wake up during the night because you have to urinate.
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