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Bowel and Bladder Health

Incontinence and getting older

Getting older doesn’t cause incontinence (loss of control of your bladder). However, changes that happen as part of aging can play a role in your bladder control.

  • Estrogen levels lower as you age and can affect how well your bladder works. This can also affect how well you can control the urge to empty your bladder. Your urethra is the tube from your bladder to the outside of your body. The walls of your urethra can lose some of their ability to squeeze and control your flow.
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles can make it harder to hold or release your urine.
  • Physical changes in how well you move can make it harder for you to make it to the toilet on time.
  • Your kidneys make more urine at night as you get older.
  • Other health issues such as coughing a lot, being overweight, or being constipated can affect how well your bladder works. Having too much caffeine can also cause problems that lead to incontinence.

What you can do

You can help incontinence issues by making healthy changes in your diet, weight, lifestyle, and activities. Using vaginal estrogen or moisturizers may help as well. Talk to your healthcare provider about this.

Current as of: April 30, 2020

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services