Heavy lifting and high-impact movements, like running and jumping, also put pressure on your bladder and the surrounding muscles.1 If you notice that you pee a little, say, during intense workouts or even when you’re rushing out the door to get to the office quickly, that’s a good indication you may be experiencing stress incontinence.
2. You constantly wake up at night to go to the bathroom.
An overactive bladder causes frequent urination and makes you feel a strong urge to pee, sometimes when you don’t actually need to go. That might wake you up during the night, Dr. Sutherland says. It might also mean you need to take several bathroom breaks during work meetings or constantly have to pause Netflix to go pee (even if you’re not drinking a ton of fluids).
3. You feel like you need to pee, but can’t go once you try.
Maybe this scenario sounds familiar: You feel such a strong urge to pee that you can’t ignore it and rush to the bathroom. But, once you get there, just a little dribble comes out. This urge, even when your bladder isn’t actually full, is a symptom of an overactive bladder. “Basically, someone is going all the time, and every time they go, there’s just not that much in there,” Dr. Sutherland says.
4. You just can’t get to the restroom quickly enough.
“Sometimes, you feel like you have to go to the bathroom, and you can’t get there in time,” Dr. Sutherland says. This is a symptom of an overactive bladder. Things that may affect your mobility, especially as you get older, like an injury, disability, or arthritis, might also make it tough to reach the bathroom or unbutton your pants quickly enough, potentially leading to an accident.2
5. You carry around extra underwear, just in case.
How much do you worry about leaking? If you carry extra underwear, pads, or panty liners with you at all times “just in case,” that means urinary incontinence is making a big enough impact in your day to be top of mind. If it’s come to this, Dr. Sutherland suggests talking to your doctor.
6. You notice blood in your urine.
If you suspect you have any type of urinary incontinence and also spot blood in your urine, talk to your doctor immediately, Dr. McAchran urges. Blood in your urine, known as hematuria, might make your pee look pink, red, or brown. This can be one telling symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney stones. Luckily, if one of these things is causing your incontinence, getting the right treatment will resolve your bladder control issues. In rare cases, hematuria can be a rare sign of cancer in the urinary tract, so it’s important to make your doctor aware so they can rule it out if needed, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
7. You feel pain when you go to the bathroom.
If it’s ever painful to pee, Dr. McAchran urges talking to your doctor as soon as possible. Dysuria, or pain or burning discomfort when you urinate, could be a sign of a UTI, bladder infection, or inflammation of your bladder or urethra, all of which can trigger or exacerbate incontinence. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment so that any underlying infection causing the pain doesn’t move deeper into your body and become even more serious.
8. Your worry is starting to take over your life.
Worrying about leaking or always making sure that you’re close to a bathroom weighs on you. If it’s stopping you from going to the gym, jumping on the trampoline with your kids, or dissuading you from going out in public, call your doctor, Dr. McAchran says. “If the incontinence is keeping you from doing things that you want to do, that’s absolutely a reason to get help.”
How is urinary incontinence treated?
Dr. McAchran suggests starting with your primary care physician, who can refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist. When you meet with a specialist, they’ll ask you lots of questions, such as when your symptoms started, how often you’re leaking, what seems to cause the leaks, whether you feel a strong urge to go to the bathroom and how often, and how all of this is affecting your day-to-day life, Dr. McAchran says.