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The Causes of Bladder Control Problems

Bladder control is based on a delicate relationship between the nervous system and the muscles surrounding the bladder. Your body retains urine by tightening small muscles around the base of your bladder, and a set of nerves continually signal whether your bladder is full or empty. Any interference in this system can potentially lead to bladder control problems.

Neurological Causes: "Neurogenic Bladder"

Many bladder control issues are caused by disruptions to the nervous system and are classified as Neurogenic Bladder. If the signals that control the muscles around the bladder are interrupted, due to disease or injury, the bladder can become release urine unintentionally. Disrupted signals can also make your body may feel that your bladder is full when it is actually empty (or vice-versa).

Some of the factors that can interfere with this communication are:

  • side effects of certain medications
  • a post-surgical reaction
  • diabetes
  • infections, including spinal cord or brain infections
  • irradiation
  • excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol

Structural Causes

Bladder control problems can also stem from conditions in the tissues surrounding the bladder. If the related muscles and glands are weakened, swollen or simply positioned incorrectly, then the ability to retain urine can be compromised. Some of the structural factors that can contribute to bladder problems are:

  • physical strain or stress
  • pregnancy or recent childbirth
  • side effects of certain medications
  • bladder irritation from a vaginal or urinary tract infection
  • constipation
  • a disorder affecting the muscles, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury or stroke
  • a post-surgical reaction
  • pelvic-floor problems
  • an enlarged prostate

Psychological Causes

Your emotional and psychological state can have some effect on the physical systems that maintain bladder control, which worsens as bladder control problems worsen. Some women who suffer trauma or surgery to the pelvic region are more likely to keep their pelvic muscles chronically tense. Over time, this weakens the body's signals from the bladder to the brain and makes only the most urgent of sensations that the bladder is full perceptible.

Learn more about the potential consequences of bladder control problems.