Wondering what exactly bladder weakness is and what the potential causes are? Don’t worry, you’re not on your own. In this guide to bladder weakness, we’re going to take a look at what it is, the causes, as well as lifestyle changes that can help with managing the condition and experiencing fewer bladder leaks.
Spoiler alert: It's actually your pelvic floor muscles that are responsible for bladder weakness and not your bladder. When you experience a weak pelvic floor this is known as stress incontinence.
What Is A Weak Bladder?
A weak bladder happens when the pelvic floor muscles, or the urethra sphincter, have been damaged or weakened. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak and someone is experiencing bladder leaks, this is known as stress incontinence (1). For information on specific definitions relating to stress incontinence, check out our incontinence glossary.
What Is Good For A Weak Bladder?
If you have a weak bladder, there are various things you can do to try to reduce your bladder leaks. For example, ditching certain foods and drinks can reduce irritation to the bladder. Alternatively, there are exercises that can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, leading to less leaks. Let’s break it down and take a look at what you can do in your daily life to manage your bladder leaks.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
Coffee is one of the worst culprits for a weak bladder due to the caffeine irritating the bladder and making any incontinence issues worse. We know that cutting down on coffee may be a challenge, so if needed, cut down on consumption gradually or switch to decaf.
Other drinks to be mindful of are certain fizzy drinks, tea, green tea, energy drinks, and hot chocolate, as these all contain caffeine. If you do drink these, look at switching them for water, herbal or fruit teas.
You may also wish to ditch any tablets containing caffeine as they can lead to you needing to go for a wee more frequently.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is a diuretic that stimulates and irritates the bladder, which can lead to needing the toilet on a regular basis (2). Reducing alcohol consumption and ensuring you do not regularly exceed the number of daily recommended units can help with reducing issues with bladder weakness and leaking.
Eat Plenty of Fibre
If you are experiencing bladder weakness, you should make sure you’re getting enough fibre. This is important as straining to do a poo weakens your pelvic floor muscles and can make urinary incontinence worse. It’s recommended you eat 30g of fibre a day (3). Foods that are rich in fibre are:
- Certain breakfast cereals
- Granary bread
- Whole-grain pasta
- Brown rice
- Fresh/ dried fruit
Drink 6-8 Glasses Of Water Daily
It’s understandable why you may think that drinking less water may help your bladder weakness. However, drinking less reduces your bladder’s capacity to hold wee. Drinking less can also lead to constipation which can weaken your pelvic floor muscles (2). We know drinking water can be boring and some of you may not like the taste, so you could:
- Add some lemon or lime to your drink
- Try sparkling water
- Add a touch of no added sugar squash
It’s recommended that you drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. However, if your doctor has recommended otherwise, please follow their advice.
Avoid Acidic, Spicy and Sugary Foods
Eating foods high in acidity and spice can irritate your bladder. Foods with a high sugar content can also act as a stimulant. Both can lead to feeling an increased urgency to wee and you may go more often (4). Foods to cut down on or avoid are:
- Spicy foods
- Citrus fruits, for example, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, fruit juices
- Tomato-based foods
Smoking irritates the bladder and can cause you to need the loo more often. Smoking is also likely to make you cough. Coughing places a strain on the pelvic floor muscles which can lead to bladder leaks (5).
Lose Excess Weight
Being overweight places pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight reduces this pressure. Your pelvic floor can then better support your bladder and bowel, so you’re able to have more control of your sphincter muscles (4).
Core Strengthening Exercises
High-impact sports and exercise can place pressure on your pelvic floor muscles which can lead to leaks. Pilates and yoga, however, strengthen core muscles such as the pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening the pelvic floor supports the bladder, which can reduce stress incontinence (6).
Lift Weights Carefully and In a Controlled Manner
It’s best to avoid lifting heavy items and weights as it puts a strain on your pelvic floor muscles and places pressure on your bladder. However, if you do need to lift a heavy item, first squeeze your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift (2).
Daily Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are another name for pelvic floor exercises. Practising kegel exercises is one of the safest and most important techniques to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, bottom, vagina, or penis to stop stress incontinence (7). You will have to do kegel exercises 10-15 times a day, and over time you can increase the number of reps. It can take around 3 months until you notice an improvement from doing Kegels (2 & 8).
Non-Invasive Incontinence Treatments
Choosing the right diet and exercise to reduce your bladder leaks is worthwhile and important. But it’s not always as simple as ditching spicy foods and switching from lifting weights to pilates. Life, circumstances, and practicality all play a role when influencing our lifestyle decisions.
So is there a simpler solution to treat bladder leaks?
INNOVO is a simple and effective option in reducing bladder leaks. Research shows that 87% of INNOVO users were defined as dry, or almost dry, after 12 weeks (9).
It’s practical and has been designed with you in mind. You wear the shorts, connect the cables, and wear them for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This allows INNOVO to complete 180 pelvic floor exercises for you.
Wrapping It Up
There is a range of options to reduce and manage your bladder leaks. Choosing food and drink that won’t irritate your bladder and strengthening your core muscles is a great first step.
Sometimes changing our habits and routines can be difficult. INNOVO, however, offers you the convenience of treating your bladder leaks from home for just 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Find out how INNOVO works and how you can benefit from it after just four weeks.
- Bladder & Bowel Community. Stress Urinary Incontinence. Reviewed June 2021.
- NHS. How To Help A Weak Bladder. Reviewed November 2019
- British Heart Foundation. Are You Eating Enough Fibre? Accessed June 2021.
- Bladder & Bowel Community. Eating Your Way To A Healthier Bladder & Bowel. Accessed June 2021.
- Urology Care Foundation. 7 Urologic Conditions Impacted by Smoking. March 2018.
- Physiolates. Pilates For Incontinence. Accessed June 2021.
- Healthline. Natural Remedies For An Overactive Bladder. Updated March 2019.
- NHS. What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises? Reviewed April 2020.
- R. Dmochowski – Novel external electrical muscle stimulation device for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence: randomized controlled noninferiority trial versus intravaginal electrical stimulation. ICS Conference 2018.