5 min read
by Team Thinx | 06/15/2023
If you’re anything like us, you naturally assume you’re done peeing when, well, you’re done peeing. So, what’s the deal if you feel a couple of extra trickles, or general wetness in your underwear, either immediately after using the bathroom, or even while cracking up at a joke at happy hour with your colleagues and friends?
Call it urinary dribbling, call it overactive bladder leakage, call it what the heck is going on, but rest assured you’re not the only one who faces this perplexity: nearly half of women and females-assigned-at-birth (AFABs) experience what’s known as urinary incontinence (UI).
The name might not be terribly sexy, but let’s establish something from the get-go: leaking urine after peeing is usually normal. Still, you might be curious about why it happens, if there’s anything you can do to mitigate it (hint: there is), and what it might suggest about your health.
In its simplest form, urinating involuntarily. Basically, it’s when urine seeps out, even if you’re not trying to expel it. And while you may associate the words “urinary incontinence” with your grandmother or great aunt, approximately 10% of women and AFABs between the ages of 19 and 30 experience bladder leakage.
Leaking after peeing — the technical term for it in our book — is generally separated into five types:
stress urinary incontinence – Stress incontinence refers to urine that dribbles out when you’re involved in some sort of physical exertion, whether it’s running, yoga, sex, coughing deeply, or, yes, even cracking up with friends or sneezing.
urge urinary incontinence – Urge urinary incontinence, on the other hand, is as it sounds: the sudden, overwhelming desire to urinate. This results in unwillingly leaking.
functional urinary incontinence – This form of leaking after peeing may be due to a literal inability to get to the bathroom in time, typically due to a health condition that limits mobility.
overflow urinary incontinence – You may feel like you’ve released all of the urine in your bladder, but then you experience frequent, if not perpetual, leaking after peeing.
mixed urinary incontinence – Lastly, there’s a combination of different types of urinary dribbling, although it’s usually due to a mix of stress and urge incontinence — feeling the intense need to pee while completing a marathon and feeling a little trickle escape.
It’s safe to say that while leaking after peeing can range from mild to severe and infrequent to often, most of us want to do our best to avoid it. And that comes down to pinpointing why it’s occurring in the first place.
First things first, if involuntarily urinating is complicating the quality of your life or forcing you to turn down invitations to dates and even those happy hours, you may want to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional to understand better why it’s happening and your options for handling it. Further, you should seek medical attention if you’re also experiencing:
waking up to use the bathroom
a loss of bladder control
finding blood in your urine (an issue known as hematuria)
pain while urinating
In the meantime, though, it might be helpful for you to get a clearer picture of the most common causes of bladder leakage:
Why are we starting with this one? Because it’s one of the most common — and has one of the simplest fixes.
Whether wine is your jam or you’re more of a craft beer connoisseur, it’s good to know that alcohol in and of itself isn’t a cause of urinary incontinence, unless you’re drinking a heavy amount on a regular basis. But alcohol, intoxication, and even a hangover can make going pee seem both necessary right at this moment and highly desirable because:
alcohol acts as a diuretic and can leave you dehydrated; to compensate, you may drink more water, which naturally fills your bladder
alcohol spurs a nuanced biochemical response that compels your kidneys to generate more urine
alcohol may irritate your bladder, which may exacerbate symptoms of an overactive bladder
This may cause your bladder to leak urine without your permission — at a bar, sure, but also while you’re sleeping off a few drinks in bed. (Fact: about 5 million American adults still struggle with bedwetting.) Plus, if you’ve ever been intoxicated, you know that you may not always remember to pee or make it to the bathroom in time.
We’re not here to lecture you about your habits. However, if you do smoke, just keep in mind that this can also irritate your bladder and result in UI. There are many resources available if you are looking to quit.
Ever notice that you seem to have to pee way more often right before your period arrives, during it, and even for a short spell after?
You’re not alone in this, either. Doctors suggest this happens because of a drop in estrogen levels, which can stimulate urinary leakage.
Alcohol, your period, and smoking aren’t — as you might imagine — the only reasons why you might experience UI. It can also be caused by:
perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause
pregnancy and childbirth
urinary tract infections (UTIs)
certain medications, including antidepressants and diuretics
an underlying health issue, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke, diabetes, and pelvic floor disorders
And while UI isn’t reserved for your grandmother and great aunt, as we mentioned, age does increase your chances of experiencing UI. This isn’t anything to fear, really, as it’s caused by natural forces: as the years go, your pelvic floor muscles may grow weaker. Luckily, there’s a remedy for that — and we’ll turn our attention toward it shortly.
The biggest and most telling symptom of urinary incontinence is the intense need to pee. This can arrive all of a sudden and seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes at the most unfortunate times, like right before giving a presentation, or the second after the restrooms have closed on a flight that’s about to land (Murphy’s Law, we see you).
In addition to this, though, you might also experience:
leaking pee while engaged in everyday activities, like bending over to pet your pup or lifting an object
feeling like you have to pee and literally being unable to stop it, even if there’s no bathroom in sight
releasing urine without intending to — as in, without the urge to urinate or a warning of any kind, or while having sex
Experts suggest that there are lifestyle tweaks to help you manage urinary incontinence. Let’s look at a few of the most significant.
If you notice yourself leaking urine after peeing, you might want to not only eliminate or cut back on your alcohol consumption but also exercise moderation with other foods and beverages that are often linked to UI. These include:
caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, which are also notorious diuretics
acidic foods and drinks, like tomato sauce and cranberry juice
Your best bet is to experiment. If your daily La Croix habit doesn’t seem to be causing leaking after peeing but that third cup of java does — well, you know exactly what to do.
Some of us might dedicate hours at the gym to our bis, tris, and obliques but totally forget about the muscle group that helps us with key activities like sex and holding in our pee when stuck in a traffic jam: our pelvic floor.
Strengthening it, however, is one of your golden tickets to preventing those urinary dribbles (in some cases, that is). You can do so by consistently committing to pelvic floor exercises like:
Try these and see if you find yourself leaking after peeing less (and perhaps enjoy better sex while you're at it).
Sounds pretty posh, doesn’t it? But “timed voidings” just means going to the bathroom on a regular basis rather than waiting until the very last second to pee.
On the flip side, bladder training is a method for “toning” your bladder (so to speak) by waiting a touch longer every time you have a desire to pee so that you can go for longer between trips to the bathroom.
If lifestyle changes don’t prove to do the trick, a medical professional may recommend other means of intervention, such as surgery like urethral bulking or an intravaginal pessary. But all of this depends completely on why you might have UI and the severity of it.
Leaking after peeing certainly isn’t an anomaly. It may also be short-lived. But chronic and more severe urinary incontinence after childbirth requires a visit to a medical professional.
Whether you’re leaking urine after peeing or not, these lifestyle modifications may have a positive impact on your overall health and wellness. And if you do experience that urinary dribble? Thinx for All Leaks bladder leak underwear may be one of the best incontinence products you’ve been eager to find. With tons of comfortable options made with high-quality, absorbent materials, you can go about your life, even if some urinary leakage does occur.
Feel empowered with Thinx — and join us on our mission to create a healthier, happier world.
At Thinx, we strive to provide our readers with the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information. Our content is crafted by experienced contributors who ground their work in research and data. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked within the text or listed at the bottom to lead readers to the original source.
Mayo Clinic Health System. Is urine incontinence normal for women? https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/is-urine-incontinence-normal-for-women
Female Public Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Prevalence, awareness, and understanding of pelvic floor disorders in adolescent and young women. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27171318/
Nature Reviews Disease Primers. Urinary incontinence in women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878864/
Mayo Clinic. Urinary incontinence. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Symptoms & causes of bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/symptoms-causes
University Urology Associates. Does alcohol cause incontinence? https://uuaurology.com/alcohol-cause-incontinence/
National Association for Continence. Could alcohol be causing your bedwetting problem? https://nafc.org/bhealth-blog/could-alcohol-consumption-be-contributing-to-your-incontinence-or-bedwetting-problem/
National Association for Continence. Adult Bedwetting Causes And Treatments. https://nafc.org/adult-bedwetting/
An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The role of obesity on urinary incontinence and anal incontinence in women: a review. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1471-0528.16848
Urology Care Foundation. 7 urologic conditions impacted by smoking. https://www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/care-blog/2018/7-urologic-conditions-impacted-by-smoking
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Symptoms & causes of bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). The role of obesity on urinary incontinence and anal incontinence in women: a review. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/symptoms-causes
UT Health Houston. Three exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. https://www.utphysicians.com/three-exercises-to-strengthen-your-pelvic-floor/
Cleveland Clinic. Urinary incontinence. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17596-urinary-incontinence
John Hopkins Medicine. Urinary incontinence in women. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/urinary-incontinence/urinary-incontinence-in-women
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