Bladder issues are extremely common among women, but for some reason they’re not talked about all that much. Some women find it embarrassing to talk about bladder conditions. They shy away from talking about what they’re experiencing with their physician or among other women.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, many bladder problems are associated with numerous problematic issues. This includes a decrease in physical activity, social isolation, falls, fractures, poor adherence to blood pressure medications, and more. Because bladder problems are so common yet infrequently talked about, we’re rounding up some common conditions. Our goal is to help you learn more, realize you’re not alone, and encourage you to seek treatment. Here are the top bladder conditions you may experience:
Have you ever accidentally leaked urine? If so, you may be experiencing urinary incontinence. This is a condition that leads you to lose control of your bladder. It can be provoked by something as simple as a sneeze or cough. It can also come on suddenly with a strong and intense urge. Urinary incontinence is more common as people age, but certainly not inevitable, and can often be treated with medication or small lifestyle changes. If you experience urinary incontinence, you’ll want to see a doctor to address the condition and also to make sure you’re not dealing with another serious, underlying condition that’s contributing to your incontinence.
Frequent urination is a condition in which you urinate more than normal. It’s extremely common and impacts somewhere around 33 million Americans. The times per day can be hard to define, but is somewhere around eight or more times per day, or more than once per night. You’ll want to speak with your doctor if it’s interfering with your life or causing you anxiety.
If you experience instances where you suddenly develop a strong and overwhelming need to urinate, possibly alongside pain or general discomfort in your urinary tract or bladder, you may be dealing with urinary urgency. This condition often occurs alongside frequent urination.
The most common cause of urinary urgency is a urinary tract infection. It can also be caused by caffeinated or alcoholic drinks or drinking too much liquid over a short period of time. Also, pregnancy, anxiety, diabetes, chronic bladder infection, and vaginal infection. Other less common causes include a tumor, nervous system disorders, and bladder cancer. If you’re having issues with urinary urgency where it’s interfering with your life, you’ll want to see your doctor.
Do you feel like you’re constantly getting up at night to use the bathroom? If you need to urinate multiple times each night, you could be suffering from nocturia. This is a condition that leads you to wake up in the night to urinate. It can happen at any age, but is more common in adults who are over 60. The cause can be as simple as consuming too many liquids. Or it can occur for more complex reasons, including diabetes, sleep disorders, congestive heart failure, bladder obstruction, bladder inflammation, or as a side effect of a medication you’re taking.
Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplies within the bladder. The infection can exist in any part of the urinary system, which includes your bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra. UTIs are very common, so much so that if you haven’t had one yourself, you likely know someone who has. In fact, statistics show that one in three women will have a UTI by age 24, and around half of women will have one at some point in their lifetime. When contained to the bladder, UTIs can be very painful, irritating, and uncomfortable. But when left untreated, the infection can travel to the kidneys, which carries more serious health risks and consequences.
Common UTI symptoms include burning and irritation while urinating, an intense need to urinate, and feelings of lethargy or shakiness. Also, fever and chills, pressure and pain in the back or lower portion of the abdomen, passing only small amounts of urine despite feeling an urgent need to use the bathroom, and cloudy, bloody, dark-colored, or strange-smelling urine. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor to treat the infection before it has the chance to spread.
Tips to Keep your Bladder Healthy
- Live a healthy lifestyle (stay hydrated, limit alcohol and caffeine, don’t smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise)
- Avoid constipation
- Do pelvic floor muscle exercises
- Use the bathroom often and when needed
- Take enough time to fully empty the bladder when urinating
- Be in a relaxed position while urinating
- Wipe from front to back
- Urinate after sex
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.