Solutions for a leaky bladder

Last Modified: 8/17/2022


This post was written based on a presentation by Kara Peas, PT, DPT, board certified women’s health clinical specialist, Parkview Health.

People often think that their leaky bladder is a normal part of aging, or something that happens after childbirth, or a reaction to drinking large amounts of fluid. They either laugh it off or resolve that surgery is the only solution. The truth is, there are a number of exercises and lifestyle habits that can improve issues with leakage.

Dispelling the myths

Urinary Incontinence (UI) is attached to a number of myths. Let’s look at some of those common beliefs and the truth patients need to know.

Myth: “It’s a normal part of aging.”

Truth: No, leakage at any point, is not considered normal. Incidence does increase as you age but you do have control over some of these aspects.

Myth: “It happens after you give birth.”

Truth: Most women do notice SUI starts after having children, secondary to birth trauma to the pelvic floor muscles. This is why we try to teach women and young girls to engage their pelvic floor throughout their lifespan. Don’t normalize leakage at any point.

Myth: “It’s due to my large prostate.”

Truth: Benign Prostate Hypertrophy (BPH) does have an impact on the mechanism of the bladder, but there are habits that can improve emptying for males to reduce leakage or urge incontinence.

Myth: “Surgery will fix it.”

Truth: In some cases, yes, but the majority of women and men need to try healthy ways to improve their leakage first, before having a surgery.

Myth: “If I drink less, I won’t leak.”

Truth: This is not true, as you are always producing urine. Water is the bladder and bowel’s best friend.   


There are two main types of incontinence: Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI).

When we look at adult women in the United States, more than 60% experience some form of UI. While incontinence is less common in men, they are also 50% less likely to seek care. Leaky bladder does not discriminate, and it’s important that all adults understand how their habits can impact these issues.

Tips to control leakage

Urge control – The worst time to go to the restroom is when you are experiencing a strong urge and your bladder feels like it’s bouncing. Be careful: Performing Kegel exercises or more pelvic floor strengthening may make UUI symptoms worse. Instead …

Try: 10 toe curls and 3 deep breathes to reduce urge

Try: 10 anal squeezes with 3 deep breathes to reduce urge

Try: 10 anterior squeezes with 3 deep breathes to reduce urge 

Identify and address constipation – Normal bowel movement frequency is three times per week to three times per day. Track and find your normal so that you know if you’re experiencing something outside of that. This goes for the shape and consistency of your feces as well. If you aren’t sure, the Bristol Stool Chart is a helpful resource. Water is critical for addressing constipation.

Try timed voiding – This involves going to the bathroom on a regular cadence, before you get the sudden urge to use the toilet. This process can help retrain the bladder for a more regular routine or longer periods in between trips to the bathroom.

Pelvic floor strengthening – There are a number of cues, specific to men and women, to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help minimize leakage. Your primary care provider or physical therapist should be able to assist in providing these simple exercises.

Maintain overall health – Instances of UI are most common in people older than 70, with a body mass index greater than 40, who have given birth vaginally. While there isn’t much you can do about some of these factors, maintain a healthy weight is a great place to start. Consume at least 64 ounces of water each day, or more depending on your weight. Get regular movement in and minimize your consumption of caffeine or carbonation.


While these recommendations are a great place to start, bladder leakage can be a symptom of a more complicated health matter, such as prolapse or nerve injury. It’s important that you speak to your doctor about therapies, medications or more advanced solutions if you are not seeing resolution.

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