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Learn About Women's Bladder & Bowel Conditions | NAFC

Learn about women's incontinence conditions, including overactive bladder, stress urinary incontinence, nocturia, UTIs and pelvic organ prolapse.


For something that affects close to 18 million women, it is surprising how many choose to suffer urinary incontinence in silence. Not only must these women contend with the physical symptoms, they have to bear a great deal of emotional pain as well. All of this stems from the misinformed idea that incontinence is an untreatable consequence of having had children or as a result of aging.

While these life events can create circumstances for incontinence, the truth is the vast majority of incontinence can be successfully treated and managed. As with any health-related issue, the best thing to do is to fully understand what you are dealing with. Once better informed, you and your physician can devise the best plan for success. Types of bladder and bowel control problems are noted below and detailed further on dedicated pages.

 Female anatomy

FEMALE STRESS URINARY INCONTINENCE (SUI) When physical activity exerts pressure on the bladder, leakage occurs. This could be when you lift something heavy, laugh, cough, or even sneeze. Many women experience this as a result of pregnancy and child birth.  >

OVERACTIVE BLADDER (OAB)  Overactive Bladder is a condition that results from sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscle in the wall of the urinary bladder. You experience a sudden and unstoppable need to urinate (urinary urgency). Overactive bladder should not be considered a normal part of aging.  >

PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE (POP)  The word prolapse means to fall out of place. When the pelvic wall weakens or ruptures, the bladder, uterus and rectum (or a combination of all three) can drop into the vaginal canal. This creates a blockage and creates difficulty emptying the bladder.  In addition, POP can also cause incontinence or leakage as well. >

PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH  The physical trauma of childbirth can lead to both Stress Incontinence and Overactive Bladder.  However, precautions can be taken to prepare the body and prevent or lessen the impact of childbirth on your urinary system.  >

NOCTURIA  According to the American Urological Association (AUA), Nocturia is "the need to urinate at least twice during the night." This is condition begins to show up in women around the age of 60. So if you’re making a couple of trips to the bathroom a night, you might want to learn more about this common and manageable condition.  >

BOWEL HEALTH  If you are unable to make it to the bathroom without bowel leakage, you most likely are dealing with bowel incontinence. From dietary changes to exercise, there is much that you can do in order to take charge of your life with bowel incontinence.  >

URINARY TRACT INFECTION  If your Urinary Tract health has been derailed, learn how to treat infections quickly and safely. >