​Bladder dysfunction

Bladder dysfunction (or urinary incontinence) is the leaking of urine that you can't control. It's often an isolating and embarrassing condition that's hard to talk about—but you aren't alone. About 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men have bladder incontinence.

The good news is that it is treatable and you don’t have to learn to live with it. At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we know that getting back to enjoying your life is key. That’s why our experienced, leading-edge physicians offer the most advance treatment at facilities like The Christ Hospital Pelvic Floor Center, which is dedicated to helping women reclaim their quality of life.

Women face different types of bladder dysfunction, including:

  • Functional—a mental or physical problem that prevents a person from getting to a bathroom in time

  • Overactive bladder—frequent urination and urgency

  • Overflow—leakage of small amounts of urine because of a full bladder

  • Stress—leakage of small amounts of urine while coughing, sneezing, exercising or laughing

  • Temporary—leakage that occurs temporarily because of an infection, illness or medication change 

  • Urge—leakage of large amounts of urine at unexpected times, including during sleep

The experts at The Christ Hospital have the experience and skill to diagnose and treat so you return to your pursuits.

Bladder dysfunction causes

Bladder dysfunction can be caused by many different factors. When you meet with your doctor he/she will take a family history and history of your urinary issues to help pinpoint the cause of your bladder dysfunction.

Common causes of bladder dysfunction include:

  • Bladder irritation

  • Blocked urethra

  • Nerve damage or neurological diseases

  • Overactive bladder (sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate)

  • Poor health

  • Prior bladder or pelvic surgery

  • Prolapsed bladder (the bladder drops into the vagina)

  • Side effect of medication

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Vaginal childbirth

  • Weakness of muscles in the bladder and surrounding area

Bladder dysfunction risk factors

Here are some factors that can increase your risk for having bladder dysfunction:

  • Age

  • Bladder disease

  • Chronic constipation

  • Diabetes

  • Disability or impaired mobility

  • Hysterectomy

  • Menopause

  • Neurologic disease

  • Obesity

  • Pregnancy

  • Smoking

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Surgery or radiation therapy to the pelvis

Bladder dysfunction symptoms

Fear of the unknown can lead women to ignore common symptoms and delay treatment. Your symptoms tell your doctor what kind of urinary incontinence you may have. 

Common symptoms of bladder dysfunction are:

  • A strong urge to urinate

  • Burning pain combined with urge to go 

  • Involuntary loss of urine 

  • Leaking urine while asleep

  • Painful urination

  • Sudden urges to go to the bathroom

  • Urinating more often than usual 

  • Waking from sleep to urinate

When to see a doctor

Bladder dysfunction is very common in women older than 50 years of age and women who have just given birth.

If you have noticed any of these changes, it's time to make an appointment with your doctor.

  • Have bladder control problems that have started suddenly

  • Have involuntary release of urine enough to alter your daily lifestyle

  • Are avoiding sexual intercourse for fear of leaking urine

  • Need to lie down to relieve a heavy pressure in your pelvic region

Do you think you have bladder dysfunction? Discuss your concerns with your gynecologist or make an appointment with one of our Women’s Health experts.

Do you have more questions about your bladder but not yet ready to make an appointment with a  doctor? Contact our ezCare Concierge nurse navigator, a free, confidential service designed to help you navigate the best next steps for you and your health.

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