Restore Your Freedom

Disorders of the pelvic floor are common with sufferers experiencing a loss of freedom and control

Causes of bladder incontinence

The causes of urinary incontinence can be straightforward, but some are complex.

There are many reasons why bladder function changes. Inactivity, caffeine intake, smoking and excessive weight can all contribute to bladder health and continence. Some medications can cause bladder control problems. Structural changes and damage, such as nerve or muscular damage due to surgery or injury, can also affect continence control.

Pregnancy and childbirth

Doing pelvic floor exercises regularly is a good idea for everyone, but especially for pregnant women and those who have just had a child.

Pregnancy can strain the pelvic floor muscles and childbirth can stretch, weaken or tear them. Surgical cuts during childbirth can also cause problems. If women aren't able to exercise their pelvic floor muscles before and after childbirth then some degree of stress incontinence may develop.

Sometimes, excessive pelvic floor tension can also cause bladder and bowel function problems. 1

Hormones for ladies, prostate for gents

For women, hormonal changes after the menopause can contribute to muscle and tissue weakness in the pelvic floor causing continence control changes.

For men, the enlargement of the prostate gland as they grow older can cause urinary retention problems.

Bladder infections

Urinary tract infections such as cystitis, which is bacterially based, and interstitial cystitis, a disease with no known cause, can mean frequent and urgent trips to the toilet, sometimes for only a little urine to be expelled.

Scarring of the bladder

Infections can contribute to a reduced storage capacity in the bladder because scarring in the interior of the bladder affects its ability to stretch and contract. Also, surgery can contribute to scarring in other parts, such as at the bladder neck.

Blocked plumbing

Bladder stones or blockages in the urethra can cause retention. This is when urine is not easily expelled or when the bladder overflows causing a constant drip.

Constipation can cause a mass in the bowel which places pressure on the bladder and affects its ability to function.

Very rarely tumours cause blockages.

Prolapse

Prolapse is when an organ such as the bladder or anus slips out of its correct position. When that happens, continence control is affected. Surgery can correct prolapse.

Surgery

Surgery for prostate enlargement can cause damage to men's plumbing, specifically the sphincter muscle at the bladder neck. Other procedures, such as hysterectomy (removing the uterus) or removal of blockages or lumps can sometimes result in bladder control problems due to muscle or nerve damage.

Nerve damage

The bladder and the muscles involved in bladder control and urination are dependent on sensory communications to the brain by nerves. When these nerves or their pathways are damaged, problems arise. Damage can be due to surgical procedures; injury from accidents, such as spinal injury; or because of diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Multiple Sclerosis.

Conditions and disease

Urinary tract infections such as cystitis, which is bacterially based, and interstitial cystitis, a disease with no known cause, can mean frequent and urgent trips to the toilet, sometimes for only a little urine to be expelled.

  1. Tries, J. Disorders Related to Excessive Pelvic Floor Muscle Tension. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. USA: August 24, 2006. (Accessed 11.10.2006)

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