Although rarely diagnosed in women, overflow incontinence occurs often during or after a natural life event like pregnancy, vaginal delivery of a baby, or menopause.
Overflow incontinence can come as a bit of a shock as you may not be aware that you need to go to the loo and your bladder will leak without warning. Obviously this can be highly embarrassing if it happens in public!
What’s the story with overflow incontinence?
The main difference is overflow incontinence and other types of light bladder leaking is that with overflow incontinence the regular stream of wee is interrupted and the bladder can’t fully empty.
Overflow incontinence tends to happen when the bladder, like an over-filled hot water bottle, has pressure put on it and the urine is forced out. This can be caused by nervous system problems, such as the brain not knowing that the bladder is full, or where pee is reduced to a trickle because there’s a blockage somewhere in the plumbing.
And because wee can’t stream out with its usual enthusiasm, the bladder fills to the point of overflow.
Overflow incontinence can be more than embarrassing
Wetting one’s pants will make any woman blush. For many, it’s more than embarrassing: it can play havoc with your self-esteem and sexual confidence. Some women even avoid parties and other social gatherings for fear of being seen with a wet patch on their clothing.
The good news is that there are very effective treatments, some of which you can do by yourself, including pelvic floor exercises.
Some of the telltale signs of overflow incontinence
There’s a good chance you have overflow incontinence if you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms:
- You’re dribbling wee
- You feel like you can never empty your bladder completely no matter how long you sit on the toilet
- Your urine stream is very weak when you do go to the toilet (for example the stream is a dribble or only a few small drops)
- It’s difficult to even start weeing
- You’re going to the bathroom much more often but are passing less urine
- You’ve wet the bed at night
- You have a bladder infection. (Unfortunately, one of the worse side effects of overflow incontinence is that urine may stay in the bladder for long periods of time and cause bladder infections)