Young women and bladder and bowel health issues


Whilst we tend to think of bladder and bowel health issues affecting older people, they can occur in people of any age. Young women including those who have never been pregnant can experience a range of bladder and bowel health issues. 

Bed wetting 

Young women may experience bed wetting (nocturnal enuresis) which may have persisted since childhood or may have developed later. Whilst this subject is rarely discussed, around 1-4% of the adult population wet the bed. 

Causes of bedwetting in adults:

  • an overactive bladder

  • inability to wake from sleep when the bladder is full

  • medical conditions such as diabetes insipidus

  • sleep apnoea 

  • neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or a seizure disorder

  • urinary tract infection

  • constipation

  • anatomical issues in the bladder or lower urinary tract 

  • medicines – especially those that have a sedating effect such as antipsychotics

  • alcohol and other drugs.

An assessment to determine the cause/s of the issue is important. The assessment findings can then be taken into consideration when providing treatment options. Contact us for more information.

Overactive bladder, urgency 

Most people experience urgency from time to time and need to find a toilet quickly. It is not normal to always have difficulty “holding on “and having to rush to the toilet, or wetting yourself before you get there. 

Things to check are:

  • Do you go to the toilet when your bladder is full rather than putting off going to the toilet several times and then finally are unable to hold it in? 

  • Do you drink a lot of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, cola or tea? 

  • Are you taking medicine that is irritating your bladder? 

  • Do you have a health or medical condition that may be causing you to have an overactive bladder? 

  • Could you have a urinary tract infection?

Assessment is important to rule out any serious underlying health or medical issues before treatment is considered. Contact us for more information. 

Urinary stress incontinence 

Hormonal changes occurring in adolescence and during the menstrual cycle can be associated with urinary stress incontinence. Women who perform high impact activities or activities were an intense level of effort is required are more likely to experience urinary stress incontinence. 

Young female elite athletes, particularly those with exceptional core muscle development, can have pelvic floor muscles that can be strong, but do not activate correctly when the pelvic floor is under pressure. Ballet dancers are another group that may need to work on relaxing their pelvic floor muscles and learning how to actively engage the muscles during activity rather than performing exercises to further build up the pelvic floor. 

Being overweight will also place strain on the pelvic floor muscles which can contribute to urinary stress incontinence. The good news is that losing weight can help to resolve this problem. Contact us for more information.


People may be at risk of constipation if they are inactive or put off going to the toilet when they need to open their bowels and do a poo. Inactivity and prolonged sitting can slow the gut and can contribute to constipation. A poor diet that is low in fruit in vegetables, and poor fluid intake can also contribute to constipation. 

Tips to avoid constipation 

For more information contact us

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Testimonial image:

Kylie – parent of a child that wets the bed 

Kylie rang our service as she was concerned about her five-year-old daughter, Mia, who was wetting the bed. Kylie had tried limiting Mia’s drinks in the late afternoon and evening and was also getting up at night to wake Mia and take her to the toilet.

Our advisor explained that it may take children until they around 5 ½ years old before they gain bladder control during sleep. Kylie was advised to encourage Mia to drink well throughout the day and was cautioned against cutting out drinks in the afternoon and early evening. Kylie was discouraged from waking Mia at night to take her to the toilet. Kylie was provided with information on obtaining a referral from Mia’s doctor to a bedwetting clinic if Mia continues to wet the bed past 5 ½ years of age.

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Anastasiya’s story

“As a mum of two young children, I have experienced the joys of two pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. I was shocked after the birth of my first child to discover that my pelvic floor muscles had become weak. I sought advice from Bladder and Bowel Health Australia and learnt the importance of exercising these muscles. This knowledge helped, and because I was better informed second time around, I have now fully restored the dignity of my body and truly enjoyed the changes - and my motherhood. Thank you, Bladder and Bowel Health Australia, for informing young families about bladder and bowel health issues.” 

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Doreen – carer of her husband who has dementia 

Doreen was becoming exhausted caring for her husband Tom, who has dementia. Tom was not always making it to the toilet on time and needed his trousers to be changed several times a day. Every day Doreen was also washing bedlinen and the four towels that Tom was laying on at night as he was soaking through his pull-up pants. 

Tom was receiving a high-level Home Care Package, and Doreen was able to arrange with their provider for some of Tom’s package to be allocated to funding continence assessment and management.  

Our advisor went to Tom’s home and conducted a thorough continence assessment. A continence management plan was developed with input from Doreen, and appropriate incontinence aids and linen protection were organised. Doreen is relieved that Tom’s incontinence has reduced, and her washing load has lessened. Doreen is now confident that she can continue caring for Tom in their home. 

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Gary – experiencing leakage after his recent prostate surgery 

Gary met with one of our Bladder and Bowel Health advisors, as he was concerned about his urine leakage that was persisting after his radical prostatectomy five weeks earlier.   

Gary discussed his concerns with the advisor and was reassured that he was making good progress towards regaining bladder control. This reinforced the information he had received from his urologist. Gary was encouraged to switch to a smaller incontinence pad rather than continuing to wear the pull- up incontinence pants he had worn since his surgery. The advisor arranged some smaller pads for him to trial and provided details on where he could buy them close to his home. 

Gary was encouraged to drink plenty of fluid (particularly water) and to increase his fruit and vegetable intake to avoid constipation. Gary was uncertain if his pelvic floor muscles were working properly and he was referred to a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Gary left the clinic in a brighter frame of mind, confident that he was improving and had clear strategies to further support his recovery.