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Urinary Incontinence in Women: Causes, Types & Taking Control of Bladder Health

Sunday October 6, 2019
Urinary Incontinence in Women: Causes, Types & Taking Control of Bladder Health

40% of women in the UK are living with urinary incontinence. Viridian Nutrition explores urinary incontinence after pregnancy, the impact on sleep, having an overactive bladder, the link with obesity and other risk factors, along with tips on improving bladder health.


Did you know it’s estimated that urinary incontinence affects more than 14 million adults in the UK [1]?  This common condition contributes to symptoms such as involuntary leakage of urine and increased urgency and frequency to pass urine. Urinary incontinence is particularly common in females and is estimated to affect up to 40% of women in the UK [2]. 



What causes urinary incontinence in females? 

Urinary incontinence in women can be caused by a myriad of factors, such as hormonal changes, weakened pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy, neurological conditions, infections, having an overactive bladder, and aging.  Urinary incontinence can be a temporary issue, or a long-term condition depending on the cause. Risk factors such as age, being overweight or obese, and smoking may increase your likelihood of experiencing incontinence.  



How can urinary incontinence affect day-to-day life?

Living with urinary incontinence can be challenging and inconvenient, and may affect quality of life if not controlled:

Sleep quality: Frequent night-time bathroom visits and an overwhelming urgency to visit the bathroom can significantly disrupt sleep. As adequate sleep is essential for general health and recovery, incontinence may contribute to day-time drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.


Planning bathroom visits: Leaving the house? Lack of access to toilet facilities could discourage people from visiting places or socialising.   


Work life: Incontinence can affect an employee’s confidence, concentration at work, performance, and ability to complete tasks without interruptions. 


Sexual health: In a study, 46% of women that suffered from incontinence experienced sexual dysfunction, lowering libido and frequency. Sufferers of incontinence often state that they feel embarrassed in bed (3). 


Self-image: For women with urinary incontinence, they often fear of leakages and may affect self-esteem as a result. 

What are the types and causes of urinary incontinence?

Stress incontinence occurs due to a leakage from coughing, laughing, or exercising. This type is common in women that have given birth or post-menopause. It is also the most common type. 


Urge incontinence occurs due to an overactive bladder and is linked to involuntary contraction of the bladder walls.


Functional incontinence is associated with aging conditions, such as dementia, arthritis and poor mobility. 


Is urinary incontinence treatable?

Although anti-cholinergic medication is often prescribed to treat symptoms, it comes with a variety of negative side effects. Absorbent pads are also sometimes used if symptoms are severe, surgery may also be considered. However, lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence.


Lifestyle tips to take control!

Here’s 3 tips to improving bladder health:

#1 Get into the habit of strengthening pelvic floor muscles
#2 Avoid smoking and alcohol
#3 Maintain a healthy weight

Follow the above and take control of your bladder health.

Author: Salma Dawood is a Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Human Nutrition.

1)      Buckley, B. S., & Lapitan, M. C. M. (2009) Prevalence of urinary and faecal incontinence and nocturnal enuresis and attitudes to treatment and help seeking amongst a community-based representative sample of adults in the United Kingdom. International journal of clinical practice, 63(4), 568-57.
2)      Irwin DE, Milsom I, Hunskaar S et al. Population-based survey of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder and other lower urinary tract symptoms. Eur Urol 2006; 50(6): 1306-14.
3)      Amy J Sinclair, Ian N Ramsay (2011) The psychosocial impact of urinary incontinence in women. Volume13, Issue3, July 2011, Pages 143-148

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: Nutrition News and ViewsBladder Health


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