Published on December 03, 2019

Leaky Plumbing

Have you ever laughed so hard you peed your pants just a little? You’re not alone. Millions of women live with urinary incontinence.

Urge vs. Stress Incontinence

square hanging sign with word women“Urinary incontinence doesn’t just affect older women,” said Ian M. Rosbrugh, MD, a urogynecologist with Meritas Health Pavilion for Women. “Women as young as 19 can struggle with this common pelvic floor disorder.”

There are two main types of UI: urge and stress. Urge incontinence is when you have a sudden urge to pee, and it happens involuntarily and often. Pressure on your bladder causes stress incontinence. You may leak a little when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise or lift something heavy.

Why It Happens

Incontinence can happen for several reasons. Believe it or not, certain foods and drinks double as diuretics and trigger your bladder. They include:

  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks, including sparkling water
  • Chili peppers
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy, sugary and acidic foods

Underlying physical or medical conditions that alter your hormones or weaken your bladder muscles can also cause you to spring a little leak.

  • Aging bladder muscles
  • Childbirth
  • Constipation
  • Hysterectomy
  • Menopause
  • Neurological disorders (MS, Parkinson’s, stroke, brain tumor, spinal injury)
  • Pregnancy and related hormone changes
  • Urinary tract infection

What To Do

“Urinary incontinence is common, and it’s treatable,” Dr. Rosbrugh said. “Women don’t have to suffer in silence. Lifestyle changes, physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic floor, medications and minimally invasive procedures are all effective treatment options. We can find a solution.”

Related reading

Conquering Incontinence
The 411 on PFDs