Updated 31 January 2018

Incontinence and your sex life

Do you feel embarrassed during your most intimate moments? Sexual stimulation may be putting extra pressure on your bladder or urethra.

Incontinence can be an embarrassing situation, which is often made worse by the stress that comes with making it to the bathroom in time to avoid an accident. But worrying about urine leakage during sex can prove even more troubling.

Research has shown that one in every three women who suffer from stress incontinence avoids sexual activity due to a fear of leakage during intercourse or orgasm.

Research published in the International Urogynecology Journal reported that 60% of women in the study reported leaking during sex. But it is not only women who experience incontinence. Around 20% of males have incontinence issues.

Sexual stimulation can put pressure on the bladder or urethra, and weak pelvic floor muscles can result in incontinence.

Here’s what you can do

  • Emptying your bladder before sexual intercourse can reduce your likelihood of leaking.
  • You should be comfortable enough with your partner to discuss your incontinence issues. An understanding partner may help ease the stress on incontinence.
  • Cut down on fluids but remain hydrated at all times.
  • Improve your bladder control with bladder training.
  • Women who do Kegels regularly have less leakage during sex.
  • Research has shown that being overweight increases the risk for incontinence. Losing 5–10% of body weight may reduce this risk.
  • Experiment with sex positions. Certain positions may put extra pressure on your bladder and urethra, causing less leakage curing sex (such as rear entry, side entry and woman on top).
  • Talk to your doctor about treatment to help control your incontinence.

Causes of urinary incontinence                     

Urinary incontinence is not a disease, but rather a symptom of a number of conditions. It's important to know the underlying cause, especially if it is a serious medical condition.

According to the Urology Care Foundation these conditions may include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Constipation
  • Medication (such as diuretics, antidepressants and antihistamines)
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Prostate surgery
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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