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Written by

Dr.Masarat Jilani


Hey there, I’m Dr. Masarat. I'm passionate about smashing health taboos and tackling medical myths.

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For words you might want to know more

Stress incontinence

This causes bladder leaks when you cough, sneeze or laugh – it's not caused by emotional stress, but by weak pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic floor

A sturdy hammock of muscles that are at the base of your pelvis. These support the uterus, bladder and bowel in women.


A muscular sac that stores urine produced by the kidneys before you expel it from your body.

Pelvic physiotherapy

This is a therapy programme designed to help the pelvic floor function. It includes assessments, exercises, treatments and education.

Bladder worries: Britain's last taboo?

Periods, mental health and even the menopause are no longer shrouded in secrecy. Whether it’s your gut, your brain or your bones, self-care tips and health myth-busters have never been easier to access. Heck, we even talk openly about poo these days. So why the hushed tones around our bladders?

We all need to pee. Whatever your age or social status you need to pee multiple times a day.

And yet, despite the 14 million of us in the UK who suffer from bladder problems (more than those with asthma, diabetes and epilepsy put together), no one’s even talking about it!

The last health taboo

This silence offers a rich breeding ground for medical myths and unfounded rumours. People go most of their lives not knowing that they’re unwittingly damaging their bladder. And they continue to be unaware of how bladder self-care could help protect them from problems later on.

Meanwhile, the bladder remains an unsung hero, trying to let us live life according to our own schedule. 

Back-to-back meetings? Three-hour coach trip? Queueing up for the shops? Our bladder takes on the challenges, time and time again. That’s why it’s easy to take it for granted – until it stops working properly.

With such a lack of knowledge about this fundamental bodily process, things can go wrong.

For one in three women, a sneeze, a belly laugh, or a croaky cough can all end up with a side order of bladder leak. The medical term is "stress incontinence", although it’s not emotional stress we’re talking about, but strain on our pelvic floor.

Sometimes this is kick-started by life events such as childbirth or menopause, but lifestyle factors – for instance, diet, obesity or smoking – also contribute. 

Time for change

Four out of five people don’t talk to their doctor about bladder leaks.

Worse, participants in a recent survey admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic had made them even less likely to talk to a health professional because they don’t want to burden the NHS. It means that even more people are dealing with this worry in isolation.

We tend to overlook the dependable underdog of the human body: the bladder.

Whether it’s assuming that leaks are normal (they’re not) or deciding that leaks are an inevitable part of ageing (they’re not) or that it’s too awkward to discuss it. Whatever the reason, bladder health has remained stubbornly taboo. Not for much longer!

Embrace the solutions

Despite low uptake and lack of awareness, there are solutions. Pelvic physiotherapy, for instance, can improve both bladder and bowel leaks. 

The pelvic floor is often ignored – indeed, pelvic floor exercise seems to be an afterthought for most fitness regimes, apart from Pilates. It’s simply ridiculous. This is the very self-care secret we should all be shouting from the rooftops. Beneficial for both women and men (yes, men too), not only does it offer a solution for bladder problems but, if done early enough, can also be preventative.

There are also oral and topical treatments that can offer people a much-needed lifeline and a chance to regain their independence. 

The first step is to start talking, share our experiences, encourage one other to seek help, and discuss the solutions. And above all, show each other that we’re not alone. Let’s smash this taboo once and for all!

The takeaways

14 million people suffer from bladder problems

That's more than asthma, diabetes and epilepsy put together!

The silence creates undiagnosed issues

People go most of their lives not knowing that they're unwittingly damaging their bladder.

Leaks affect 1 in 3 women

For one in three women, a sneeze, a belly laugh, or a croaky cough can all end up with a side order of bladder leak.

Lack of communication

Four out of five people don't talk to their doctor about bladder leaks.

There are solutions

Pelvic physiotherapy and workouts like Pilates can improve bladder and bowel leaks. There are also oral and topical treatments: Oral medications and bladder-care supplements would be prescribed by your doctor. Topical treatments include oxybutynin patches and oestrogen gels.

Leaks when you age aren’t normal

Bladder problems are not a normal part of ageing and they are not inevitable. Healthy bladder habits are crucial and can prevent or even reverse bladder issues.

Sign up for our free Bladder Care Kit today!

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