Often we are exposed to the idea that women who are older, or who have had children, have bladder problems. They may present with urinary incontinence in a few forms. Stress incontinence (weak bladder) is the involuntary loss of urine when a person is physically exerted with such things are lifting, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. The research shows that stress incontinence affects 12-50 % of women ages 19-55 and that the rate increases with age. Although men can become incontinent, they usually do not have problems until age 65.
Another type is urge incontinence which means the strong urge to void that cannot be controlled. You may have experienced this when you really need to urinate but are not near a toilet. You are able to keep things controlled until you put the key in the lock at home or get to a toilet and are in the stall. Then without warning, you start to urinate and there is no stopping the flow. This is the type of incontinence that most men develop. Research shows that 2-9% of men are affected by incontinence up to the age of 65. After 65, the rate increases from 6-22%.
Urinary incontinence can also present with frequency. You have to go often. The normal amount is every 3-4 hours during the day. At night, the normal pattern is not up more than once. Over the age of 65, the pattern may change to 1-2 times per night. This type of urinary problem is called nocturia which means needing to urinate at night.
Women may notice a change in the bladder control around the time of their periods. This is normal due to the hormonal changes but the control comes back during or just after the cycle. During pregnancy there will be changes as well but the control returns after first month post natal if the woman does her post natal exercises including the pelvic floor. The research shows a 100% correlation between women, who do not practice the exercises and have more than one child, developing bladder problems by their 50’s if not before.