Bladder issues

Overview of bladder issues

Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. Urinary incontinence ranges from occasional urine leakage to the complete inability to control urination. Women are twice as likely as men to experience urinary incontinence.

Bladder issues affect many women, regardless of age. Common bladder issues include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Incontinence
  • Overactive bladder
  • Interstitial cystitis (also known as bladder pain syndrome)

Bladder problems can directly affect your quality of life, including daily activities, sexual health, and emotional well-being. Find a Doctor to schedule an appointment at a Dignity Health location near you to discuss your bladder issues in CA, AZ, and NV.

Symptoms of bladder issues

Specific signs and symptoms of bladder problems vary from woman to woman. Symptoms also depend on the bladder issue and its severity. Some common signs and symptoms of bladder issues include:

  • Bladder leakage
  • Painful urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Frequent or sudden urge to urinate
  • Frequent urination (more than eight times during the day or more than two times at night)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pressure or pain in the lower abdomen

Causes of incontinence and bladder issues

Women are uniquely prone to bladder issues. Factors that increase the risk of bladder issues include:

  • Pregnancy: Some of the muscles that control the bladder and urethra (the tube that urine travels down to leave the body) can stretch out of shape during pregnancy.
  • Childbirth: Vaginal childbirth can stretch and weaken pelvic muscles that affect the urinary system.
  • Hormonal changes: Bladder issues are more common after menopause, partly due to hormone changes.
  • Overweight: Being overweight increases the risk of bladder problems, especially urinary incontinence.
  • Medical conditions: Diabetes, for instance, increases the risk of urinary tract infections.

Recognizing symptoms of urinary incontinence

Your doctor will listen to you describe your bladder problems and will diagnose any symptoms of bladder incontinence. Signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence include:

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising
  • Sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Waking up many times at night to urinate
  • Urinating during sleep

You and your doctor may also discuss any related causes of bladder incontinence, including:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth: During pregnancy, the uterus presses down on the bladder and may cause incontinence. Giving birth vaginally can also stretch and weaken muscles that support bladder control.
  • Menopause: As estrogen levels decrease in menopause, vaginal tissue becomes thinner. Experts believe this also happens to the tissues of the urethra, the tube the carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): UTIs can cause temporary incontinence.
  • Medications: Medications, including diuretics (or water pills), can cause bladder incontinence.
  • Nerve damage: Any disease or injury that affects the nerves controlling the bladder can cause incontinence.