Tips and advice for dealing with bladder weakness

In Types we we describe some of the most common kinds of bladder weakness people experience and in this section we share professional tips to help with those specific types. However, if you are unsure of your type, we do advise that you talk to a healthcare professional who will usually be able to give you a diagnosis from asking a few simple questions

What will they ask?

They’ll usually just ask about the history of your bladder weakness, for example whether it is triggered by specific actions such as coughing or sneezing and about any treatments or medications that may have affected your bladder. They will probably undertake a brief examination and ask you to supply a urine sample for testing. They may well ask you to keep a diary, recording when you urinate over the course of a week, to help identify patterns or trigger points. In fact you may find it helpful to keep a diary a week before your first appointment then you will have all this information immediately to hand. You can download a diary form here.

Help with Stress Incontinence

The first step is to look and see if a few simple, lifestyle changes can make a positive difference.

Keep drinking

You may be tempted to reduce the amount of fluid you drink, but this can make your urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. We recommend that you drink as normal responding to your natural thirst. This should be enough to keep the urine a healthy, pale straw colour. As you might expect, drinking too much will just increase the urge to ’go’ so just try and keep a healthy balance.

Party Drinks

Life’s for living and bladder weakness should never force you to curb your pleasures! However, you need to be aware that caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks are diuretics which will make you visit the toilet more.

Weight Management


There is a link between being overweight and incontinence. So, if you have ambitions to slim down a bit this might be an incentive to start.

If you’re a smoker

Actually it’s not the smoking itself that causes bladder weakness but the associated coughing that can put pressure on the bladder. So perhaps that’s another reason to think about quitting?

Exercising (without the sweat)


Bladder control can often be improved by pelvic floor exercises, so this kind of physiotherapy is generally regarded as the first treatment for Stress Incontinence. In fact, up to 70% of mild to moderate cases can be improved or even cured by regular and correct pelvic floor exercises over 3 to 6 months but remember, you have to keep up the exercise to make the effects last. These exercises work by re-establishing control over the muscles that keep the urethra shut. It’s never too late to start – even in your 70s and 80s you could improve your symptoms. For a step-by-step guide to pelvic floor exercises, visit the exercise area.

A specialist may recommend techniques such as Biofeedback and electrical stimulation to help carry out these exercises properly.

Medical Devices

Where physiotherapy is not the answer, there are certain other options the doctor may consider. The insertion of a catheter with a portable drainage bag may be a temporary measure, particularly if your incontinence is the result of other surgery from which you are recuperating.
The most commonly used bladder weakness aids are absorbent incontinence products. They are especially designed to protect against urine leakage and odours and come in a range of sizes and absorbency levels. Click here to learn more about the benefits of incontinence protection.

Drugs and surgery

In some countries there are some prescription drugs used for the treatment of Stress Incontinence and in some cases your urologist or urogynaecologist may consider surgical procedures. For details on these it is best to consult a continence specialist or urologist.

Help with urge incontinence


Sometimes referred to as an overactive bladder, as the name suggests this is when you get a sudden and unstoppable need ‘to go’.

Make life easy on yourself

When you have the sudden urge to go, the last thing you want is an obstacle race to the toilet or a struggle with your clothes. So make sure you make access to your toilet easy and avoid fiddly clothing with awkward fastenings. A helpful bladder weakness tip: Dungarees are probably not a good idea!

With this type of incontinence, the next thing to try is bladder retraining which can work in up to 50% of cases. This is where you encourage your bladder to hold larger amounts of urine for longer and reduce the number of times you actually urinate. You do this by holding off ‘going’ for as long as possible to stop your bladder ‘exaggerating’ the need to go even when it is only half full. It tends to get easier over time.

Could exercise help?


Pelvic floor muscle exercises are more commonly used for Stress Incontinence but have been found to help in some cases of Urge incontinence. To find out more visit the exercise area
 

Medical Devices


Where bladder retraining is inappropriate, there are some other treatments. The insertion of a catheter with a portable drainage bag may be a temporary measure, particularly if your incontinence is the result of other surgery from which you are recuperating.

The most commonly used medical devices are absorbent incontinence products. They are especially designed to protect against urine leakage and odours and come in a range of sizes and absorbency levels. Click here to learn more about the benefits of incontinence protection.

Drugs and surgery

Urge Incontinence is sometimes known as an overactive bladder and there are some medicines that can help reduce the bladder’s overactivity but surgical solutions are rare. For details on medication it is best to consult a continence specialist or urologist.

Help with mixed incontinence

The best advice for Mixed Incontinence is to concentrate on the most dominant symptoms and try and manage these first. You could start by doing pelvic floor exercises for Stress Incontinence or bladder retraining for Urge Incontinence. Then once your main symptoms improve, begin dealing with the other symptoms.

Help with functional incontinence


If a physical or mental disability prevents you from getting to a toilet in time, it is not your fault and it is important not to let this cause stress and anxiety. There is little that can be done medically in these circumstances but you can minimise the impact of any accidents by using incontinence protection.  This will ensure you’ll always be confident that any escaped urine will be completely contained and you’ll stay fresh, dry and comfortable.

Make reaching the toilet easy

When you have the sudden urge to go, the last thing you want is an obstacle race to the toilet or a struggle with your clothes. So make sure you make access to your toilet easy and avoid fiddly clothing with awkward fastenings. A helpful bladder weakness tip: Dungarees are probably not a good idea!

Help with neurological incontinence


Unfortunately this is hard to treat but incontinence protection will ensure it doesn’t have an unnecessary impact on your everyday living.

Why not find the right product for you with the help of our  product finder?