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What is Bladder Weakness?

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Urinary incontinence, weak bladder, over-active bladder, urinary leaks… these are just a few of the terms used to describe what commonly happens when we cough, sneeze, laugh, lift or feel a sudden urge and have to go straight away. You are not alone.

The first step to address unwelcome urinary leaks is to understand how the mechanics of the body work, and that more often than not, urinary leaks can be due to having a weakened pelvic floor.

When your bladder is half full, signals are sent to the brain letting you know it’s time to ‘go’. At this point, fluid passes down your urethra; a tube kept closed by two muscles which work like valves. The first muscle valve opens when the bladder is full, but you can hold the second muscle valve closed until you reach a toilet. Your pelvic floor muscles, which lie under your bladder and around your urethra, keep these two muscle valves working properly. If not strong enough this can result in those moments that we dread so much.

It is important to understand what ‘type’ of urinary leaks (or urinary incontinence as it is medically called) you have:

Stress Incontinence (SUI)
This is the term used when leaks accidently occur from coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or doing heavy lifting. These simple movements put pressure on the bladder and, should your pelvic floor muscles be unable to tighten enough, will cause a leak. Stress incontinence is the most common type of female bladder weakness. It can happen at any age however is most common during pregnancy, after childbirth and during stages of menopause.

Urge Incontinence (UUI)
This is the term used when there is a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate, often with little warning. Symptoms of Urge Incontinence include needing to urinate often even in the night. It is thought to be caused by an overactive detrusor muscle that sends incorrect signals to the brain telling it that it that the bladder is already full, even when it is not.

Mixed Incontinence (MUI)
It is possible to suffer from both types of urinary incontinence at the same time. One type is usually more pronounced than the other, and it is advised to treat the more serious type of weakness first.


Urinary leaks can be due to having a weakened pelvic floor.

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