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Bladder Changes as You Age


As you age, your bladder changes. These changes are usually gradual and you may not even notice them until later in life. The most common change is that the muscle tissue in your bladder becomes thinner and less elastic. This can cause you to leak urine when you cough or sneeze. You may also feel the need to urinate more often or have a stronger urge to urinate.


Other changes that can occur are:

  • The amount of urine your bladder can hold decreases.

  • Your urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body) becomes narrower.

  • The nerve endings in your bladder become less sensitive.

  • The prostate gland (a gland that makes part of semen) enlarges with age and can press on the urethra, causing urinary problems such as a weak stream or the need to urinate more often.


While these changes are common, they don’t necessarily mean you will have problems with your bladder. There are things you can do to prevent or manage urinary incontinence:

  • Limit how much fluid you drink before bedtime or when you know you won’t be able to get to the bathroom for a while.

  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages, which can irritate your bladder and make incontinence worse.

  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of urinary incontinence.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Excess weight puts extra pressure on your bladder and increases the risk of incontinence.

  • Do Kegel exercises regularly. Kegels strengthen the muscles around your urethra and can help prevent incontinence. To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times, three times a day.

  • Try double voiding. After urinating, wait a few minutes and then try going again even if you don’t feel the urge to do so. This technique can help empty your bladder more completely and reduce incontinence episodes.

  • Use absorbent pads or protective underwear if leakage is frequent or severe enough to interfere with activities such as work, socializing, or exercising.

These are just some of the changes that happen to your bladder as you age! If you have any questions about how these changes may affect you, please schedule an appointment with one of at Lansing Institute of Urology. We would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Lansing Institute of Health is a Division of Compass Health. The area’s leading physicians have come together for your health. Welcome to a new direction in health care.Physician leaders in the Lansing area have come together to form Compass Health—a multi-specialty medical group committed to preserving the physician/patient relationship in today’s health care landscape. At Compass Health, providing the care you need is the focus of everything we do. The physicians and staff of Compass Health provide leading-edge patient-centered care across a range of medical specialties.