The Association Between Diabetes and Bladder Control Problems

Page content

About Bladder Control Problems in Diabetes

Roughly 50 percent of diabetics may experience bladder problems such as urine retention, poor sphincter muscle control and overactive bladder. This is often due to the complications of high blood sugar levels which can affect the nerves in the body. In this case, the nerves supplying the urogenital system are affected by uncontrolled diabetes. This is how diabetes and bladder control problems are usually related.

Manifestations of Bladder Problems

Bladder problems in diabetics may manifest in urine retention when nerves signalling the bladder to empty itself are damaged by diabetes. This can cause urine to stay in the bladder longer than necessary and may predispose patients to develop urinary tract infections. There may also be a backflow of urine towards the kidneys when the bladder becomes full with urine, thus increasing the pressure inside. Damage to the kidneys may result when this happens frequently.

Nerves around the sphincter muscle that surround the urethra may also become damaged by diabetes, resulting in one of two problems. There may either be a loosening of the sphincter muscle causing patients to develop urinary incontinence or leakage of urine, or the muscles can become tight resulting also in urinary retention.

Diabetes can also lead to an overactive bladder. This is a condition where affected nerves may trigger the bladder to urinate at the wrong time. This makes the bladder contract without much warming, often resulting in frequent urges to urinate within the day or even during the night. This can also lead to urinary urgency, an immediate need to urinate, and urge incontinence, where there is leakage of urine after a strong urge to urinate is felt.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of urinary problems is frequently done by evaluating the functions of the bladder. The use of diagnostic tests can also help in the diagnosis, like x-ray, ultrasound, and cystoscopy, a test which uses a scope to look inside the bladder.

For bladder control problems stemming from diabetes, treatment usually depends on the specific situation. For people who have a hard time releasing urine, creating a schedule for urination and taking prescribed medications can help. Massaging the lower abdomen may also stimulate the release of urine from the bladder. In more extreme cases, a catheter is needed to be inserted through the urethra and into the bladder in order to drain the remaining urine.

Problems concerning leakage and the urgency to urinate may be dealt with by taking medications, doing exercises that strengthen the muscles in the middle region of the body, and in more radical situations, surgery.


Diabetes and bladder control problems are intricately related with one another, so it is quite natural that preventing the onset of diabetes will somehow decrease the risk of developing bladder problems. Eating healthy food and regular exercise can also improve the chances of the body to fight off diabetes.

References Sexual and Urologic Problems of Diabetes

Mayo Clinic: Urinary Incontinence