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A grandma holds her young granddaughter in her arms. She doesn't want to worry about leaks during family time.

Learning about leaks: types and causes

Knowledge gives you power. So it’s time to find out what you need to know.

If you’re experiencing bladder leaks, learning about what’s happening to you may be the last thing on your mind. You’re just dealing with it and feeling frustrated that it’s happening at all. We get it. But knowledge gives you power. So it’s time to find out what you need to know.

While there’s no question you’re experiencing leaks, there can be plenty of questions about why. First, let’s take a quick look at the the most common kinds of urinary incontinence:

Strong urges

Does this sound familiar? You get hit with an overwhelming need to pee now, as in right now. Welcome to urge incontinence, which frequently involves some level of unwelcome, involuntary leakage—often just as you reach the front door or find a bathroom! It’s the bane of road trips, long movies and uninterrupted sleep. Urge incontinence is sometimes referred to as overactive bladder, but that condition is a bit different. It is based more on the frequency of the urge to urinate rather than springing leaks.

A group of moms and moms-to-be walk and chat along a tree-lined path. Pregnancy and birth can often lead to incontinence.

Stress & pressure

This is the type of leaking that so many of us know and hate. Stress incontinence is when you leak a little (or sometimes a lot) simply because a tiny sneeze or a good laugh put extra pressure on your bladder. Jumping and heavy lifting are right up there too—which is why so many personal trainers and workout partners are more than happy to let us go to the bathroom before that first set of reps.

A pregnant woman, with her friend, buys UI products on a laptop, making sure she's ready before the big day.

Ongoing overflow

If it feels like your bladder is never completely empty, and you feel a slow, continuous drip, you’re experiencing overflow incontinence.

While we can classify bladder control types, the how and why you experience leaks is almost as unique as you are! So many things can affect the strength of your pelvic floor and other factors that influence bladder health. But here are three of the most common causes of urinary incontinence in women:

Carrying around a bouncing 7lb. bundle of joy inside your body for nine months and then giving birth is bound to put your pelvic floor muscles under pressure. And they don’t always bounce back, especially after multiple births.

Leaks can actually start in perimenopause, that period before you actually stop having periods—usually in your 40s or 50s. As your hormones begin to drift and shift, lower estrogen levels lead to less elastic, weaker pelvic floor muscles.  

Health conditions—like diabetes, nerve or joint conditions, UTIs and obesity—as well as past surgeries and physical limitations that inhibit your ability to make it to the bathroom in time can cause bladder leaks, too.

The more you know about why and when and how you leak, the better prepared you are to take control. Look through the other articles and advice right here in The Source,and you’ll be well on your way!

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