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Truths And Myths About Bladder Leakage

We tackle the myths and facts about bladder leakage so you can better understand and treat this common affliction.
Woman in the toilet
Stefano Oppo via Getty Images
Woman in the toilet

Bladder leakage can be an embarrassing topic to talk about for women and many suffer in silence for years before addressing the issue. Some think it’s a disease that only affects the old while others believe it’s a problem that can’t be solved. But both are misconceptions.

In partnership with Poise Impressa, we tackle the myths and facts about bladder leakage so you can better understand and treat this common affliction.

1. Bladder leakage is an inevitable part of growing old.

Myth: Bladder leakage is not an inevitable part of growing old but it’s certainly more common in older people. However, people of all ages and for a variety of medical reasons can experience bladder leakage. For example, temporary bladder leakage can be a symptom of an urinary tract infection or pregnancy. Delivery of a baby or a change in hormones can also be at the root of the issue.

2. Bladder leakage is more common in women than men.

Fact: Most women experience bladder leakage after childbirth since vaginal delivery weakens the muscles that control the bladder. Estrogen loss during menopause can also weaken pelvic muscles.

3. Bladder leakage experienced during pregnancy is permanent.

Myth: While women who develop bladder leakage during pregnancy are at a higher risk of developing it later in life, it’s not the case for all women. More often than not, pregnancy-related bladder leakage is temporary.

4. Bladder leakage isn’t all that common.

Myth: According to a variety of studies, millions of adults experience occasional or chronic symptoms. One in four women over the age of 18 will experience bladder leakage in their lifetime.

5. Drink less water to control the problem.

Myth: Drinking less water can be a short-term solution that can lead to bigger problems. This method of treatment can cause dehydration and reduce your bladder’s capacity over time. Drinking fewer liquids before going to bed, however, is a good idea.

6. I can drink as much coffee as I want.

Myth: Several reputable medical studies point to caffeine as a major cause of bladder irritation. If you insist on drinking it, limit your intake or switch to decaf. Don’t forget that sodas and tea also contain caffeine and will cause similar irritation.

7. Changing my diet can help bladder leakage.

Fact: Being overweight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and can cause bladder leakage. Losing weight can release the pressure on the bladder thereby reducing symptoms. It’s also a good idea to avoid spicy or acidic foods that can irritate your bladder.

8. Kegels are the key in improving my condition.

Fact: Pelvic muscle strengthening exercises, commonly known as Kegels, are one of the most popular ways to decrease bladder leakage. “Kegel exercises are the first line of treatment for bladder leakage in various situations (postpartum, prolapse, menopause, etc.),” says Dr. Michel Welt, a Montreal gynecologist and a professor at the McGill Faculty of Medicine. “They are easy, there’s no cost or side effects, and can be done by any woman at home.”

The exercise consists of squeezing the muscles you would normally use to prevent yourself from urinating. Doing this three times a day can lead to significant improvements in a few month’s time. “If women need more advanced exercises and support, they can be referred to an experienced physiotherapist trained in bladder and pelvic re-education,” adds Dr. Welt.

9. I should stop smoking.

Fact: Smokers cough a lot, and increased coughing is a problem for those suffering from bladder leakage. Reducing your smoking habit will reduce your coughing, which in turn will reduce your chances of bladder leakage. (Also, y’know, cancer.)

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