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Common causes of urinary incontinence

Experiencing light bladder leakage can be embarrassing, but knowing what’s causing it is the first step in dealing with it.

Embarrased woman

Remember that time in grade school when you laughed so hard that you peed your pants? It was hilarious. Remember that time you laughed so hard that you peed your pants as an adult? Not so funny, and this is something that usually brings on a wave of embarrassment and an “Oh my God, I wish I could just disappear” moment.

According to WebMD,  as many 25% of younger women and as many as 45% of older women suffer from urinary incontinence, and for them, it’s an uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing condition that affects their daily lives. Imagine not being able to participate in your favourite sport for fear of accidental leakage or not being able to wear your favourite pair of pants because you’re afraid of exposing your light bladder leakage (LBL) pad to friends and strangers. Urinary incontinence can happen to anyone at any age. But before you either start to panic or think it can’t affect you, take a look at some of the common causes of urinary incontinence.

An aging bladder

Though urinary incontinence can strike at any age, as you get older, bladder muscles tend to decrease. This in turn decreases the amount of urine a bladder can store, thus increasing the symptoms of an overactive bladder.


As if the hot flashes weren’t bad enough, now we have to worry about the dampness from a leaky bladder. Estrogen is needed to keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy. After menopause, however, women produce less estrogen, which leads to the deterioration of tissues, which aggravates incontinence.

Pregnancy and childbirth

Stress incontinence brought on by hormonal changes and the increased weight of an enlarging uterus can be experienced by pregnant women. Childbirth may also cause incontinence, as bladder nerves and supportive tissues are damaged during the process.

Liquid diet

Put down that can of pop or glass of wine; what you drink may be the culprit of your temporary incontinence issues. Alcohol and caffeine act as stimulants and are diuretics that can cause an urgent or sudden need to urinate. Beverages (and foods) high in artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, spices and acid can also irritate your bladder, causing the occasional leak.


Urge incontinence — caused by detrusor muscles contracting too often — causes an urgent need to urinate, both at night and during the day. These muscle contractions can occur for many reasons, such as a urinary tract infection, a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, diabetes and conditions that affect your digestive system functions, such as constipation.

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