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When Is a “Weak Bladder” Something More?

By Kent Sasse September 30, 2022 Health and Fitness

For many people, symptoms of incontinence come on gradually. The need to urinate becomes more frequent, a sense of urgency increases, and leakage becomes a regular occurrence. In many cases, people are already making adjustments to their lifestyle – double checking for the location of the nearest bathroom, for example, or using pads or even diapers – before they discuss the issue with a doctor.

Unfortunately, sometimes medical doctors or other providers inform their patients that these bladder conditions are just a fleeting bladder sensitivity, or age-related bladder weakness, and do not require treatment. But when is a “weak bladder” something more?

What to Look for

Incontinence can be an embarrassing thing to discuss with your health care provider. How can you decide whether this is just a normal part of aging and something that should be treated at home with pads or diapers, or a condition that truly deserves medical attention?

If you’re asking yourself any version of this question, you owe it to yourself to seek an educated medical opinion. Why? Because you do not want to miss a serious medical condition, and because you really do not have to live with those symptoms given modern non-invasive treatments available today.

Any time there is bladder leakage, bowel leakage, or other symptoms of overactive bladder, including spasms and waking up in the night to urinate, the situation warrants a discussion with a doctor.

At minimum, some testing to screen for other related health conditions is necessary because the “weak bladder” diagnosis can occasionally be a red herring. For example, someone who smokes tobacco is at risk for bladder tumors. Someone who is overweight may be at risk for diabetes. These are both conditions that can and should be checked for with screening tests.

Incontinence – A Progressive Condition

Most often, bladder and bowel symptoms are bothersome and disruptive to life, and symptoms usually get worse with time. If you’re spending time dealing with symptoms of incontinence, you have options for treatment.

In fact, overactive bladder, bladder leakage and the dreaded related condition of bowel leakage are all highly treatable. But if you aren’t getting detailed information about your options for resolving incontinence, look for incontinence specialists and centers in your area that offer the latest technology.

Sacral neuromodulation is one of them. This impressively effective treatment for bladder and bowel leakage and overactive bladder has a success rate exceeding 90%, with no surgery, anesthesia, or medications. In more than 20 years of practice, I’ve seen this played out again and again.

The Takeaway

Overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, and bowel leakage are not a normal part of aging but are true health conditions that impair quality of life. And treatments have become simpler, easier, safer, and much more effective in recent years.

If you’re wondering whether your weak bladder is something more, trust your instincts. Mentioning it to your doctor means that you are one step closer to finding relief and getting back to sleeping through the night and saving money otherwise spent on pads and diapers. But be prepared to look for specialized care if you’re told that it’s simply a “weak bladder.”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Would you be comfortable mentioning incontinence with your medical provider? Have you been told this condition is simply a “weak bladder”? Have you seen improvement by doing nothing?

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Toni Stritzke

I’ve had loads of problems with UTIs and a “nervous” bladder over the past 8 -10 years. With the guidance of my doctor and a urologist it’s much improved.
A one stage, I did a 24 hour bladder diary that filled two whole pages! As the urologist said, “what a waste of time!”
Two things made a difference.
Much more drinking water than I thought I needed, as I live in a hot, dry climate.
A month long course of a bladder relaxant to get me over the nervous bladder syndrome.
And…starting the day; as my dear mother always told me (I ignored her advice-as you do!) with a big glass of warm water.
Not even my faithful cuppa, unless I’ve drunk the water.


After 6 years of seeing many Dr’s, I finally found a Urologist who gave me the right tests to understand what’s been driving my urinary frequency symptoms. Symptoms which greatly impacted my life. I share this to say I think it’s so important that, if the first Dr. can’t help you, do the research to pursue the right Dr. Many simply do not know and don’t admit it.

Rhonda Davis

Definitely will call my urologist to schedule an appointment. So embarrassing when I have an accident in middle of the night. The fear of it happening again has lead me to wear ‘sexy underwear’, otherwise known as diapers!! On the opposite side of this I’ve been diagnosed w a irritable bladder, I sometimes need to use a home, single use catheter in order to urinate at all! This article tells me perhaps I can get help w these things. Thank you!!

Shellie Conway

I had chronic, re-occuring UTI’s. I found a product called Uqora. Please look it up! It is an over the counter miracle. I am just an individual. I have no affiliation to Uqora. My Urologist is fine with me using this product.

The Author

Dr. Kent Sasse, an Alpha Omega Alpha top medical school graduate of UCSF, earned fellowship at the prestigious Lahey Clinic in Boston and published research on pelvic floor therapy and metabolic surgery. He founded and directs The Continence Center and the nationally accredited Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program in Reno, Nevada. His most recent book is Outpatient Weight-Loss Surgery.

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