Bothersome Bladders

Did you know…1 in 3 women suffer with the embarrassing problem of urinary leakage? Up to 70% will improve with pelvic floor exercises so don’t let leaks affect your life any longer.

The 2 most common causes of urinary leakage are:

Stress Incontinence: The leakage of urine on exertion- with laughing, coughing, sneezing, running, changing position etc.

Urge Incontinence: The loss of urine following an urgent need to empty the bladder. Women with urge incontinence may visit the toilet very frequently and find it difficult to “hold on”.

Tips to reduce leaks

  1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises (Kegels):  Do these important exercises 3 times every day. If you cannot feel a definite lift and a definite release of these muscles you should see a chartered physiotherapist in women’s health and continence who can teach you how to do them effectively
  2. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles strongly before you cough or sneeze
  3. Don’t go to the toilet “just in case”:  Emptying your bladder when it’s not full can teach it bad habits
  4. Avoid tea, coffee and fizzy drinks and alcohol: These drinks can irritate the bladder, making incontinence worse
  5. Running may further weaken your pelvic floor muscles but if you wish to continue, try running on the flat, at a slower pace or for a shorter distance until you see a chartered physiotherapist in women’s health who can tailor a programme for you. 

Chartered physiotherapists who specialise in women’s health and continence can assess your pelvic floor muscles and provide you with a personalised exercise programme to strengthen these important muscles. 

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence Guidelines recommend 3 months of supervised pelvic floor muscle training as first line treatment for stress incontinence.  It takes time to build up muscle strength, so stick with it! 

Some women will develop bladder control issues as a result of other causes which your physiotherapist will assess, prior to advising you regarding posture, prolapse prevention and good bladder and bowel habits.

By Aoibhin McGreal, Chartered Physiotherapist in Private Practice.

The ISCP is an official supporter of the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon. To find a chartered physiotherapist near you visit For a list of Chartered Physiotherapists who specialise in women’s health and continence contact the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists on 01 402 2148 or email