What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is usually caused by hormone deficiencies or problems with the muscles and nerves that assist the bladder. Health events specific to women, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, can potentially cause problems with these muscles and nerves.
Other causes of urinary incontinence include:
● Overweight. Being overweight puts additional pressure on the bladder. This can weaken the muscles over time and a weak bladder cannot hold as much urine.
● Constipation. Difficulty with bladder control can happen to people who experience chronic (long-term) constipation. Constipation is where you have to strain excessively to have a bowel movement. This can put pressure or stress on the pelvic floor muscles, as well as, the bladder. This weakens the muscles and can cause leakage or urinary incontinence.
● Nerve damage. Damaged nerves may not send signals to the bladder or send them at the wrong time. Health issues like multiple sclerosis and diabetes, as well as childbirth, can cause nerve damage in the urethra, bladder or pelvic floor muscles.
● Surgery. Any surgery that involves a woman’s reproductive organs can damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles. If the pelvic floor muscles are damaged, a woman’s bladder muscles may not work as it should and this can cause urinary incontinence.
Sometimes urinary incontinence happens temporarily because of:
● Certain medicines. Urinary incontinence can be a side effect of medicines such as diuretics (medicine used to combat liver cirrhosis, heart failure, hypertension, and certain kidney diseases). The symptoms of incontinence often cease when you stop taking the medicine.
● Caffeine. Drinks with caffeine can cause you to leak urine because they cause the bladder to fill more quickly. Research suggests that women who drink more than two cups of caffeinated drinks per day may be more likely to have problems with incontinence (International Urogynecology Journal).
● Infection. Infections of the urinary tract and bladder may cause temporary incontinence that often returns when the infection subsides.
How does pregnancy affect urinary incontinence?
As many as 4 in 10 women get urinary incontinence during pregnancy. During pregnancy, as your unborn baby grows, he or she pushes down on your bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles. Gradually, this may lead to problems passing urine or leaks because of the potential strain that may weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
Most problems with bladder control during pregnancy go away after childbirth when the muscles have had some time to heal. If you’re still having bladder issues six weeks after childbirth, talk to your healthcare provider.
How does childbirth affect urinary incontinence?
Difficulty during labor and childbirth, particularly vaginal birth, may damage the nerves that control the bladder and weaken pelvic floor muscles. The majority of problems with bladder control, that happen as a result of childbirth, mitigate after the muscles have had time to heal.
How does menopause cause urinary incontinence?
Some women have bladder control problems after they go through menopause. Analysts have theorized that low levels of estrogen after menopause can weaken the urethra. The urethra assists in keeping urine in the bladder until you are ready to urinate.
Additionally, like all muscles, the urethra and bladder muscles lose some of their strength, and potentially bladder control as a result, as you age.