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Solving Bladder Leak Problems

Solving Bladder Leak Problems

An estimated 25 to 30 percent of men and women have urinary incontinence.

Horror fiction novelist Stephen King, say aficionados on reddit, has at least one character in every novel (The Stand and Under the Dome, for example) who pees in his or her pants.

Being frightened does that to you, because the limbic system in the brain (where the fight or flight impulse lives) can override the command center in your frontal cortex that says, “Hey, let’s wait and urinate later—say, when there’s a bathroom around.” And then whoosh, you’ve wet yourself.

It’s not just scary situations that cause bladder leaks and floods, though. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of men and women (far more women) deal with urinary incontinence. About 33 million have overactive bladder (OAB), others have stress incontinence (laughing, picking up something, sneezing…) or a combination of both. It can happen because of age, menopause, a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy or childbirth. Smoking increases the risk, as does diabetes, obesity and prostate problems.

Although there are some medical (Botox), surgical (artificial sphincter) and device-based (catheters) treatments, sometimes your best bets are pelvic-muscle-strengthening exercises called Kegels (with biofeedback), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that helps your mind and body take control of your responses. One study found a two-hour group bladder control class created improvements in urination frequency and severity of the problem.

Down the road: A device called a miniaturized bio-optoelectronic implant uses a light-emitting device to short circuit the uncooperative bladder and allow controlled filling and emptying.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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