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How Can Diabetes Affect Bladder Control?

Over time, diabetes can damage the nerves that control the bladder. In both men and women, this can lead to an overactive bladder.

These are some of the symptoms of an overactive bladder:

  • Frequent urination—8 or more times a day

  • The need to get up often at night to urinate

  • A sudden, strong urge to urinate  

  • Leaking of urine after a sudden urge

An overactive bladder can be treated. Your healthcare provider may recommend exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold in urine. Electrical stimulation and medication may help treat it as well. For more severe cases, you may need surgery.

Neurogenic bladder is a less common condition caused by diabetes. People with this condition may lose the urge to urinate. They may be unable to empty the bladder completely and have frequent urinary tract infections. They may only be able to urinate in small amounts at a time (dribbling and a weak stream.) Medicine, surgery, and behavior changes may be used to treat it.

Smoking and being overweight increase a patient's chances of developing these overactive and neurogenic bladder conditions. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Hurd, Robert, MD
  • Sather, Rita, RN