The bladder is part of the urinary tract. It is a hollow, balloon-like organ that collects and releases urine from the body. It is attached to the pelvic bones and other organs and can hold around 2 cups of fluid.
When functioning normally, a person’s bladder will collect and expel urine regularly throughout the day. However, several conditions can cause the bladder to become uncomfortable, overactive, or experience other symptoms.
The following article describes the bladder’s function, several conditions that may cause bladder issues, tips for bladder health, and doctors to see for bladder issues if they arise.
The bladder is
- Kidneys: These two bean-shaped organs filter blood to remove excess liquids and waste.
- Ureters: These two small tubes connect the kidneys to the bladder.
- Bladder: This muscular, balloon-shaped organ can hold about 2 cups of liquid before it needs to empty.
- Urethra: This small tube connects the bladder to the outside and allows urine to exit the body.
As the bladder fills with urine from the kidneys, a person feels an increasing urge to urinate. A person usually has the ability to control their bladder.
When a person urinates, the muscles in their bladder contract, pushing the urine into the urethra. At the same time, the muscles around the urethra relax, which allows urine to pass from the bladder out of the body.
A person’s bladder can become infected, irritated, or damaged. This can cause discomfort, incontinence, pain, and other symptoms.
Click on the BodyMap above to interact with a 3D model of the bladder.
Several problems can affect a person’s bladder. When they occur, a person may experience symptoms that affect the bladder, the urinary tract as a whole, or other parts of the body. Some common conditions that affect the bladder include:
Urinary tract infection
One of the
Some people lose part or all of their ability to control when urine comes out. This is known as incontinence. Though several conditions can cause incontinence, it
Bladder pain syndrome
Bladder stones are small deposits of minerals that have built up into stone-like shapes inside of the urinary bladder. The deposits may be calcified, but uric acid accounts for at least
Bladder cancer occurs when cells in the bladder begin to grow out of control. Bladder cancer
An overactive bladder is not a medical condition itself. Instead, it is the name given to a group of symptoms. The symptoms often include frequent, urgent need to urinate as well as leaking urine.
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus attach to other organs or tissue outside the uterus. When they attach to or around the bladder, it can cause a person to experience bladder pain or other issues related to urination.
Irritable bowel syndrome and other bowel issues
According to a
As people age, their bladder changes, and the risk of developing bladder conditions
- limiting alcohol and caffeine
- drinking plenty of fluids during the day
- avoiding smoking
- taking steps to avoid constipation, including eating a high fiber diet
- exercising regularly
- maintaining a healthy weight
- using the bathroom at least once every 3 to 4 hours
- practicing pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, regularly to help prevent urine leaks
- trying to relax during urination
- fully emptying the bladder during urination
- wearing cotton underwear and loose fitting clothing
- wiping front to back
- urinating after sexual intercourse
Bladder pain or discomfort, blood in urine, or urinary leaking are symptoms to report to a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose and treat any underlying condition causing bladder symptoms.
In many cases, a person may find going to their primary care doctor is a good place to start. Some insurances also require a referral to a specialist from a primary care doctor.
Some doctors specialize in bladder health. Specialists include:
- Urologists: Urologists specialize in treating urological conditions, such as UTIs, kidney stones, and other conditions of the urinary tract. They often form the head of a treatment team when a person has a condition affecting their urinary tract.
- Oncologist: A urologist or primary care doctor may refer a person to an oncologist to help with cancer detection and treatment.
- Gynecologist: A gynecologist specializes in female reproductive organs and may be able to help with certain issues that can affect the bladder.
- Urogynecologist: A urogynecologist specializes in female pelvic medicine and reproductive surgery, including surgery to treat stress urinary incontinence.
The bladder forms the part of the urinary tract that collects and expels urine. Several conditions can cause a person to experience pain, discomfort, leaking urine, or other symptoms. When a person experiences symptoms, they should connect with their healthcare professional to check for and treat any underlying condition.
For some conditions, a person may be referred to a specialist, such as a urologist, gynecologist, urogynecologist, or oncologist. Many options are available to treat bladder problems and improve a person’s quality of life.