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Urinary Incontinence health centre
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The bladder

The bladder is where urine gets stored before going to the toilet. The bladder holds around 400 to 600ml or urine. Learn more bladder facts here:

Picture of Human Bladder
The bladder is located in the pelvis above and behind the pubic bone. It is pear shaped, and about the same size as a pear when it is empty.

The kidneys make urine that travels down ureter tubes into the bladder.

Urine is stored in the bladder which stretches to take more liquid until a person is ready to go to the toilet.

When peeing, bladder muscles contract, and two sphincter valves are opened to let the urine out.

Urine leaves the bladder through the urethra. This tube is longer in men than women because of the additional length of the penis.

Bladder conditions

  • Cystitis, a sometimes painful bladder infection.
  • Urinary stones, which can form in the kidneys and move to the bladder where urine flow can be blocked causing pain.
  • Bladder cancer, tumours can grow in the bladder sometimes causing blood in pee.
  • Urinary incontinence: Unintentional urination or leakage.
  • Overactive bladder: Bladder detrusor muscle problems can cause urinary incontinence.
  • Haematuria: Blood in the urine, sometime caused by bladder cancer.
  • Urinary retention: Bladder does not full empty after using the toilet.
  • Cystocele: Pelvic muscles often weakened after childbirth allow the bladder to press on the vagina causing urination problems.
  • Bed-wetting, also called nocturnal enuresis.
  • Dysuria, painful urination, often due to infections.

Bladder tests

  • Urinalysis, testing urine for infections affecting the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy, an instrument formed of a narrow tube with a light and camera on the end is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to look inside to help diagnose bladder conditions.
  • Urodynamic testing, tests include assessing urine flow, pressure and bladder capacity.

Bladder treatments

  • Pelvic floor exercises, muscle exercises to strengthen muscles involved in stopping and starting urination to help prevent incontinence.
  • Medication, treatments to relax the bladder muscles to help with overactivity and incontinence are available.
  • Bladder catheterisation, a tube to drain out urine directly from the bladder.
  • Operations and procedures, surgical solutions may be available for some forms of incontinence and to treat bladder cancer.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 10, 2016

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