Why is My Bladder so Weak All of a Sudden?

There’s nothing more embarrassing than realizing your pants are wet – especially when you know you didn’t sit in a puddle. There’s nothing more disheartening than feeling an increased need to urinate, yet when you do, no more than a few drips or a slight trickle seems to come out. If you’re experiencing either of these problems, needless to say, you’re probably feeling mortified and frustrated. If you are experiencing these symptoms all of a sudden, that’s a sign that you’re suffering from a weak bladder. Also known as an overactive bladder, OAB is a condition that is actually quite prevalent as you age; particularly for women.

Why is My Bladder so Weak All of a Sudden?

While it might help to know that you aren’t alone, that doesn’t do anything for your feelings of embarrassment, aggravation, and concern. So, what causes OAB? Read on to find out about some of the potential factors that can contribute to this common problem.

What Causes an Overactive Bladder (OAB)?

An overactive bladder (OAB) or weak bladder (the terms are interchangeable) can occur for a number of reasons. Some of the most common factors that contribute to the development of this common affliction include:

Pregnancy

The increased need to urinate is a common symptom that women experience during pregnancy. The changes in hormone levels combined with the physical changes that the body experiences throughout the nine months of pregnancy can alter the function of the bladder. As the uterus expands to accommodate the growing baby, it can press on the bladder, which can make you feel as if you need to urinate, even when the bladder is virtually empty.

Additionally, the body experiences a marked increase in fluid production during pregnancy. These factors combined can lead to a weak or overactive bladder. Further compounding the problem is the increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) during pregnancy.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Often simply referred to as UTIs, urinary tract infections are another common cause for a weak bladder. UTIs occur as the result of bacteria that enters and affects part of the urinary tract, such as the bladder, the kidneys, or the entire urinary tract.

A urinary tract infection can increase the urgency and frequency of urination - also known as urge incontinence. As mentioned, pregnant women are prone to UTIs; however, women of all ages can experience this condition.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are another common cause of a weakened bladder. As women age, their bodies produce less estrogen. The decline usually begins during perimenopause and continues to diminish throughout menopause and even after.

The reduced amount of estrogen can result in the thinning of the tissues that line the vagina, which can reduce the strength and elasticity of the vagina, as well as the muscles that surround it. The weakened muscles minimize the amount of support to the bladder and the urethra, which can lead to an increased urge to urinate.

Medications

Certain medications can also result in an increased need to urinate. The following medications are known to cause this adverse effect:

  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Decongestants
  • Bipolar medications (lithium, for example)
  • Diabetes medications
  • Decongestants

Excessive Weight

Women who are overweight often experience the symptoms of a weakened bladder. Additional weight in the abdominal region can push on the bladder, which can make you feel as if you need to urinate more frequently and with increased urgency.

Nerve Damage

Damage to the nerves in and around the bladder can also result in a weakened bladder. Herniated discs are a common cause of this problem, as is Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and stroke. Additionally, accidents that have affected the abdominal region can also result in nerve damage that can result in OAB.

Diabetes

Women who are diagnosed with diabetes are at risk of developing an enlarged bladder. For obvious reasons, when the bladder is enlarged, you can experience an increased need to urinate, and the need to urinate with urgency.

Bladder Stones

Women who are having a hard time fully emptying their bladders may also be experiencing bladder stones. These stones are the result of crystalized minerals that collect in the bladder and can cause irritation that can increase the need to urinate.

When to Seek Treatment for Overactive Bladder (OAB)

There are several factors that can contribute to the sudden onset of a weak bladder. Don't let a weakened bladder ruin your quality of life. If you are suddenly experiencing a weakened bladder, and if the symptoms do not subside or they worsen over time, seek the help of a urologist near you.

Additional Information: Urinary Incontinence in Older Adults - National Institute on Aging

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