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Bladder Weakness - The Facts

First published July 2006

Bladder Weakness - The Facts 


What is bladder weakness?

Bladder weakness, also known as urinary incontinence, describes the condition when the bladder leaks involuntarily. The problem can vary and people with bladder weakness can lose relatively small to large quantities of urine at any one time. The condition can affect both women and men.

Causes and types?

There are a number of triggers for bladder weakness:


  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles - pelvic floor muscles support the bladder. When these muscles lose their strength and flexibility, everyday activities such as laughing or coughing may cause urine to escape. Pelvic floor muscles can be stretched and weakened during childbirth and being overweight can also put a strain on these muscles.

  • Menopause - the reduction of oestrogen in the body affects the abdominal muscles resulting in the bladder shifting position. The bladder muscles become less effective.

  • Other causes - damage to the nerves, certain drugs, constipation or even infection can also lead to bladder weakness.

There are four major types of bladder weakness. Each one has a different cause and different symptoms. They are:


  • Stress - unexpected leakage when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise. Weakened pelvic floor muscles are the main cause of this type of bladder weakness, which is most common in women especially during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is therefore vital to exercise your pelvic floor muscles regularly.

  • Urge - a strong and sudden urge to pass urine. The bladder tries to empty itself despite efforts to restrain leakage.

  • Overflow - when the bladder does not empty completely, urine builds up and in the end may drip out as if it was overflowing.

  • Mixed - it is fairly common to have more than one type of symptom.

How can I manage my bladder weakness?

Bladder weakness is often easily treated and managed. The first recommendation is to visit a GP or nurse, who will be used to talking about it and will be able to advise on a suitable course of action.

  • Pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegel exercises, may be recommended as a way of strengthening the weakened pelvic floor muscles. TENA has in collaboration with physiotherapists put together a medically approved exercise routine to build up pelvic floor muscles, which can dramatically improve bladder control. The exercises can be accessed online at

  • TENA also suggest keeping a diary of times when the urge is apparent, and then try to put it off for a little big longer, which involves distracting yourself and recording the length of time between trips to the toilet.

  • TENA offer a variety of bladder weakness products, which give both women and men the freedom to enjoy their daily routine without worrying about the threat of bladder weakness. The TENA range features the ‘Dry Fast Core’ offering improved security, dryness, freshness and discretion.


Over four million people in the UK experience bladder weakness, making it as common a condition as hayfever!


Women can enjoy their lives without the threat of bladder weakness.
Top tips:


  • Being careful about the underwear you wear is key but so is adequate protection!

  • Women who require protection, the key is a fit for purpose product - TENA have a full range for all types of bladder weakness.

It’s more common than you think!

More than 2/3 of women visit the toilet before leaving the house just in case, even if it’s a short trip!
1/2 of men do the same thing!
2/3 individuals think that it’s a condition that is only experienced by older women & men
1/4 of women over 35 have experienced bladder weakness
1/4 of women would use a feminine sanitary product above a ‘fit for purpose’ product

Who would they speak to:

1/2 of women & men would consult their GP
1/5 women say they would tell their partner
But are these the most reliable sources of information?

Who/where can they access the most practical advice?


  • Practice nurses, continence advisors, or patient groups are often better placed to give appropriate / adequate advice & support

  • 12,000 community pharmacies across UK currently selling large amounts of bladder weakness products
    – at heart of community
    – staffed by caring, trained, healthcare professionals
    – female support (pharmacy assistants)
    – environment for health education

TENA Live & Enjoy Life!


  • TENA offers a wide variety of bladder weakness products and gives both women and men the freedom to enjoy their daily routine without the threat of bladder weakness

  • The new, TENA Lady Mini Magic is a small as a pantliner but eight times drier.

Call the TENA confidential Advice Line 0845 30 80 80 30 to speak to a trained advisor and receive a free TENA sample. Alternatively visit .

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