5 Bladder Issues All Women Should Know About

Have you found yourself urinating more than usual or experiencing a strange pain in your pelvis? These annoying or painful symptoms can both be signs of a bladder issue—an unfortunate reality for many women.

While there are many different bladder issues a woman might experience throughout her life, a few in particular tend to show up most often. Recognizing the warning signs of these bladder issues can help prevent worse conditions down the line.

If you believe that you’re experiencing a bladder problem, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with a doctor. Aside from being frustrating to deal with, minor bladder problems can turn into larger ones without proper care!

Here are five of the most common bladder issues all women should know about.

1. Urinary tract infection

While both men and women can experience a urinary tract infection, this irritating problem is much more common in women. Urinary tract infections can affect your bladder, ureters, urethra and kidneys and are caused by the presence of bacteria. Women are more susceptible to these infections because they have shorter urethras and because sex can push bacteria into the urethra more easily.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can differ based on where the infection occurs. However, the most common symptoms include bloody or cloudy urine, painful urination and frequent urination.

It is important to seek a doctor’s advice when experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection, since it can lead to more serious complications if the infection reaches your kidneys. Thankfully, urinary tract infections are quite easy to treat with things like pure cranberry and antibiotics. If you find yourself with a urinary tract infection, it’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water to flush bacteria out of your system.

2. Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence essentially means that you are unable to control your bladder. While this can be an embarrassing issue, it is also quite common, especially in older women. This bladder problem can range in severity and is characterized in a few ways, based on the cause.

Several different things are associated with urinary incontinence. The condition is commonly seen in people who have experienced pregnancy or vaginal childbirth due to weakening of the pelvic muscles. This makes it more difficult to control the flow of urine through the urethra. Urinary incontinence is also associated with menopause, since a drop in estrogen levels can weaken the pelvic muscles, as well.

You may notice that your urinary incontinence is brought on by situations that put a slight strain on the body, including exercising or coughing. Urinary incontinence may also occur suddenly and without warning. No matter what type of urinary incontinence you are experiencing, there are treatments available, including diet plans, pelvic exercises and many more.

3. Nocturia

Nocturia is a bladder issue common among adult women that involves waking up multiple times during the night to urinate. There are many simple reasons one might experience nocturia, including taking new medications, drinking too many liquids before bed and eating a high-sodium diet. However, nocturia can also be caused by more severe problems, including diabetes or congestive heart failure. Regardless of the cause, the persistent sleep disruption is bad for your overall health! This is why it’s important to speak with a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Treatment for nocturia can differ based on the severity of your condition. You may only need to cut back on liquids before bed or change your diet. In some cases, your doctor might recommend medication to help alleviate your symptoms. For instance, one type of medication tells the kidneys to produce less urine. This is usually recommended for women diagnosed with nocturnal polyuria, a subcategory of nocturia that occurs when the kidneys produce too much urine at night.

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4. Interstitial cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a condition that mostly affects women. The problem is most commonly characterized by chronic pain in the bladder. This problem is often mistaken for a UTI, but no bacteria is causing an infection.

Unlike other bladder issues, interstitial cystitis causes symptoms that can differ greatly depending on the person. For example, one woman with interstitial cystitis may experience pain while urinating, while another may feel pain during sexual intercourse. The severity and length of time someone experiences these symptoms can also vary.

Interstitial cystitis is often confused with UTIs because many of their symptoms overlap. Pelvic pain is the predominant symptom of interstitial cystitis, but women have also experienced frequent urination, bladder muscle spasms and a persistent urge to urinate. Once a UTI is ruled out, your doctor will most likely diagnose you with interstitial cystitis.

While experts don’t know much about what causes interstitial cystitis, there are several treatment options available, including exercise and diet changes. It’s important to note that the treatments available for interstitial cystitis don’t always help alleviate symptoms, so finding the right treatment could take some time.

5. Urinary urgency

Urinary urgency is exactly what it sounds like—a condition that causes a sudden and intense urge to go to the bathroom. This might be caused by drinking too many liquids, but it can also be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Anxiety, certain medications and diabetes can cause urinary urgency, as well.

Treatment options for urinary urgency differ greatly based on the cause of your condition. Outside of conventional medicine, holistic options like herbal supplements might also help support normal bladder function.

Bladder issues should not be ignored

If you are experiencing symptoms of any bladder issue, you should consult a doctor right away. While some bladder issues are less severe, others could cause damage to your kidneys or have other severe complications.

The most important thing to remember is that bladder issues are normal, especially for women. There is no reason to be embarrassed about talking to your doctor, no matter what kind of symptoms you are experiencing. There is likely a treatment option available that will make your life easier and more comfortable.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in February 2021. It has been updated to include more relevant and comprehensive information.

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