Incontinence in Teenagers: Why It Happens and What You Can Do About It
Jessica Lubahn 8 min read
As if you didn’t already have enough to worry about.
Basketball tryouts. Exams. Your parents. Your love life.
And now you keep leaking pee every time you laugh or make a sudden move.
It’s unnerving and stressful — and you’re terrified someone will discover your embarrassing secret. But what can you do about teen urinary incontinence?
If you (or a teen you know) are struggling with the confusion and embarrassment of urinary incontinence, we’ve got answers.
We give you the stats around incontinence in teenagers, why it can happen, and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
- How Common Is Incontinence in Teenagers?
- What Causes Teenage Incontinence?
- 5 Reasons for Incontinence in Teenagers
- When to See the Doctor for Incontinence in Teenagers
- 4 Tips for Dealing With Teen Incontinence
- Teenagers Have Enough To Worry About — ONDRwear Undies Give Peace of Mind to Teenagers Suffering from Incontinence
How Common Is Incontinence in Teenagers?
According to a study of 736 teens, incontinence in teenagers isn’t common, but it can still occasionally occur.
The teenagers involved in the study had been previously evaluated for urinary incontinence at age seven and were evaluated again at age 17.
The reevaluation included questions about:
- Daytime incontinence
- Imperative urge (the strong, sudden, uncontrollable need to pee)
- Difficulty emptying their bladders; and
The results revealed a rate of:
- 0.9% urinary incontinence in teenage males; and
- 5.9% urinary incontinence in teenage girls
Overall, the symptoms were reported to be mild or moderate.
What Causes Teenage Incontinence?
Incontinence in teenagers can be caused by all sorts of factors, including:
- Pelvic floor weakness
- Urinary tract infection
- Constipation; and
- “Giggle incontinence”
5 Reasons for Incontinence in Teenagers
#1: Weak Pelvic Floor
Weak pelvic floor muscles can be a cause of incontinence in teenagers.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) happens when pee leaks anytime there is pressure on your bladder, like when you exercise or laugh.
Having strong pelvic floor muscles is one of the best ways to keep stress urinary incontinence from happening.
If this is something you’re struggling with, you’ll want to check out our pelvic floor exercises below!
And there’s something else to consider when it comes to the pelvic floor and incontinence in teens. If you have a weak pelvic floor, also having poor posture can make it even worse.
Learning — and maintaining — good posture means you won’t be putting your pelvic floor muscles or bladder under extra pressure by sitting or standing in a slouched position.
You’ve probably heard of a UTI, aka urinary tract infection.
A UTI occurs inside your:
- Urethra; or
You may experience a stinging or burning sensation that makes it super painful to pee. And you’ll feel the need to go much more often than you normally do.
UTIs can happen if you:
- Don’t stop to pee when you feel the urge
- Are sexually active; or
- Have poor urinary hygiene habits
The good news is that once a UTI is treated, the urinary incontinence usually goes away and things get back to normal.
If you have diabetes, your blood contains too much sugar or glucose.
This means your kidneys have to work harder than they should to get rid of the extra sugar — and they do it by making more urine.
If you're a diabetic whose sugars aren’t under control, it can lead to an increased risk of a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, this may cause damage to your kidneys.
Never underestimate the importance of a good poop.
Not only is not being to poop horribly uncomfortable, but it also can be a contributing factor to incontinence in teenagers.
So what do you do? Take the time to poop anytime you feel the urge.
And you'll also want to do your best to steer clear of foods that can make constipation worse, like:
- Fast food
- Processed meats, like hot dogs and lunch meats
- Sweetened cereal
- Ice cream
- Fried foods; and
- Refined flours
You can also help things move along by eating foods that encourage your body to run smoothly.
Here are a few constipation-preventing foods that can help:
- Fruits, such as:
- Plums; and
- Prunes (they’re not just for old people)
- Vegetables, like:
- Sweet potatoes
- Squash; and
- Nuts and seeds, such as
- Almonds; and
- Beans and legumes, including
- Kidney beans
- Navy beans; and
#5: “Giggle Incontinence”
You read that right.
Giggle incontinence, also known as giggle micturition or enuresis risoria, refers to involuntary and uncontrollable peeing during — you guessed it — giggling or laughing. It mostly affects girls under 18.
Experts are still not sure why giggle incontinence happens, but a study by Schneider Children's Hospital in New York shed light on one possibility.
The study looked at 109 children previously diagnosed with giggle incontinence. It identified the cause of giggle incontinence as the involuntary contraction of the detrusor muscle brought about by laughing.
The researchers also found that giggle incontinence improved in children and teens who did exercises to strengthen their detrusor instability — resolving completely in 89% of the participants.
In most cases, however, children will simply grow out of giggle incontinence.
When to See the Doctor for Incontinence in Teenagers
If a teenager is suffering from incontinence, it's important to visit a physician to rule out any underlying conditions, such as neurological abnormalities or UTIs.
The doctor will be able to run any needed tests and recommend possible solutions, such as specific exercises or changes in diet.
4 Tips for Dealing With Teen Incontinence
#1: Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor muscles are found between your pubic bone and tailbone.
These muscles support the functions of your:
- Small intestine; and
- Uterus, in women
When your pelvic muscles are weak, you have a higher risk for urinary incontinence.
If you find yourself struggling in this area, doing special exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles can help.
A 2018 study found that pelvic floor exercises improved the bladder’s ability to hold pee and reduced the amount of urine leakage in patients suffering from incontinence.
Here are two simple pelvic floor strengthening exercises you can try for improving incontinence in teenagers.
Here’s how you do Kegels exercises:
- Tighten your pelvic muscles and hold them firmly for 5 seconds.
- Slowly release the muscles, relaxing them for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times, three times each day.
Quick Flick Kegels
Quick flick Kegels are similar to regular ones, but they’re done rapidly.
Here’s how you do quick flick Kegel exercises:
- Rapidly contract and release your pelvic floor muscles, repeating the movement 10 times in 10 seconds. You’ll feel like you’re lifting your pelvis and then quickly lowering it back down again.
- Repeat three times every day.
#2: Be Careful What You Drink
If you're peeing too much, you’re definitely going to want to keep an eye on how much liquid you’re drinking.
Except for water, that is. If you’re not drinking enough water, your pee is going to be too highly concentrated. And overly concentrated urine can cause irritation to your bladder — making you have to pee even more.
So what drinks should you cut back on or skip altogether? For sure anything that has caffeine, like:
- Carbonated drinks such as soda; and
- Energy drinks
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it irritates your bladder and ups the amount you pee.
You’ll also want to skip the alcohol and citrus juices like orange, or grapefruit.
#3: Steer Clear of Bladder-Irritating Foods
Did you know that some foods can trigger your bladder and can strengthen your urge to pee? The most common bladder-irritating foods include …
- Citrus fruits, like:
- Raw onions
- Soy sauce
- Chocolate; and
- Anything spicy
#4: Wear Incontinence Underwear
Another great step you can take if you’re a teenager who’s dealing with incontinence is to wear protective underwear, like ONDR.
Not only do ONDRwear incontinence undies protect against those embarrassing pee leaks, but they’re also …
- Not as bulky; and
- More absorbent
… than the other brands of incontinence underwear out there.
Plus, it comes in cool styles for both girls and guys that don’t show under just about all your favorite clothes — just like your regular underwear.
Teenagers Have Enough To Worry About — ONDRwear Undies Give Peace of Mind to Teenagers Suffering from Incontinence
The embarrassment of incontinence isn't something any teenager should have to deal with.
ONDRwear incontinence underwear can help.
Created by a urologist, Dr. Jessica Lubahn, ONDR is the perfect way to restore confidence and put an end to the embarrassment that goes along with incontinence.
If you think wearing incontinence underwear will be like wearing a diaper — think again. Not only is ONDRwear super-duper comfortable, but it’s also:
- Naturally odor-free; and
- Machine washable
Plus, it comes in all your favorite styles for both guys and girls, including
- Boy shorts
- Boxer briefs
- Thongs; and
- High-waisted briefs
Give ONDR a try today to put an end to worrying about leaks and get back to living the best years of your life.