Caffeine And Urinary Incontinence - How They’re Linked & How To Manage

It may seem far removed, but did you know your humble cup of coffee could be worsening your incontinence symptoms?
Here’s how…

Caffeine And Urinary Incontinence - How They’re Linked & How To Manage

It may seem far removed, but did you know your humble cup of coffee could be worsening your incontinence symptoms?
Here’s how…

Many of us can’t imagine starting our day without a cup of coffee. But did you know that caffeine can actually have an effect on urinary incontinence?

It might seem far removed but your average cuppa may be impacting your bladder and worsening your incontinence symptoms.

In this article we explore the links and science between caffeine and incontinence to equip you with all that’s needed to best manage your symptoms with ease and confidence.

What is caffeine?

Usually sourced from the coffee bean, caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Many use caffeine as a way to ward off fatigue and sleepiness, enjoying the boost it provides in the morning.  

While many people will consume caffeine from the coffee bean source, it is also found naturally in certain types of tea and cacao beans.

With something so commonly used in the everyday, the effects of caffeine on the body and incontinence are, curiously, not widely discussed. Yet studies show there are strong links and understanding them can be helpful to those who may experience the symptoms.

Caffeine, the bladder and incontinence

From bladder pain after coffee, bladder irritation and understanding a helpful diet for the bladder, experts have weighed in to guide us.

So how does caffeine affect bladder function?

Most people ingest caffeine through liquid which means that from the start the bladder will be under pressure to hold more but studies have shown the presence of caffeine can specifically impact the bladder.

An American study, looking into bladder function in overactive bladders, explained that “Caffeine at 4.5 mg/kg caused diuresis [the increased production of urine] and decreased the threshold of sensation at filling phase, with an increase in flow rate and voided volume. So, caffeine can promote early urgency and frequency of urination. Individuals with lower urinary tract symptoms should avoid or be cautious in consuming caffeine containing foodstuffs.”[1]

Essentially the study showed caffeine made people feel they needed to urinate much sooner, reducing the volume at which the bladder felt full, increased the flow rate of urine leaving the body and how frequently an individual felt they needed to go.

Further research by the National Association of Continence also verified that caffeine can lead to the irritation of the bladder resulting in stronger urges [2].

The fact caffeine is a diuretic (increasing production of urine through elevated excretion of water from the body) resulting in more frequently feeling the need to urinate, is helpful to be aware of.

It is important to note that a university found that caffeine may specifically irritate the lining of the bladder or even agitate the nervous system that controls both the bladder and bowel [3].
This reaction could cause further difficulties for people that may suffer with incontinence.

Caffeine, side-effects and incontinence

Absorbed in the stomach within 45 minutes, caffeine easily crosses the blood brain barrier meaning its effects are felt quickly. Scientists have found that the elevated alertness, energy and heart rate induced by caffeine can translate into restlessness, fidgeting, muscle twitching or tremors and importantly, increased urination [4].

Even alone these symptoms can be distressing but felt in those that may already experience incontinence, these further side-effects of caffeine can exacerbate already high difficulty in bladder function and controlling the pelvic floor muscles.

Medical researchers have also found that caffeine stimulates the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the intestines [4]. This means that there is a link between caffeine intake and the activation of movement in the bowels, encouraging faecal discharge, which may prove difficult to those with incontinence.  

Reduction & Caffeine Substitutes To Try

Adjusting a few elements of your diet can help manage the effect caffeine has on your system, think of it as creating a diet for your bladder to keep it happy and functioning well.

It must be noted that for some, giving up caffeine is just not an option. In this case the best approach is reduction. Instant coffee has around 65mg of caffeine per cup compared to the 93mg of brewed coffee [5], with decaf having the least, sitting at around 4mg.
Black tea is also an option, having around 43mg of caffeine and green tea has about 28mg.

If it’s a pep in your step you’re after, you may want to switch to fruits for that burst of energy from sugars. However it bodes well to assess how you feel after eating citrus foods, as fruits high in acid can also irritate the bladder [3].

Experts encourage eating pears, apricots, papaya, and watermelon as a way to gain a hit of energy without the caffeine or acidic content [6]. Goji berries, apples and bananas are also some fruits to try, with lots of natural sugars to boost the system with far less acid too [3]. These fruits will release sugars into your system that may give you the lift that caffeine used to.

If you’re after a more sustained energy release throughout your day, prioritising eggs, yogurt, grains, legumes and whole foods is the way to go. From multigrain breads to oats, lentils, peanuts and the whole cohort of beans, these choices will keep releasing energy into your system throughout your day without overwhelming your bladder and renal system.

With small tweaks to breakfast and lunch, such as adding eggs, yogurt, grains, low-acidic fruit, and choosing beverages with low caffeine or none may provide the control and confidence many are after.

What food/drink should be consumed to help manage incontinence symptoms?

In addition to the foods mentioned above, a recent study found that reducing trans and saturated fat in the diet had a direct positive impact on study participants with incontinence [8].

Experts found that reducing fatty foods was an effective intervention option for the prevention and treatment of urinary incontinence as well as reducing the instance of urinary tract infections.

Instead of trans and saturated fats prioritizing foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is encouraged. Olive, canola and sunflower oil are part of this family. Corn, soy nuts, seeds, and fish are all options to try as well. Avocados and nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans may also be helpful additions to meals.

Scientists also encourage people who may struggle with incontinence to consume high-fiber foods, such as lentils, beans, vegetables and fruits (low acidic). These foods can help prevent constipation, which strains bowel movements and the pelvic floor, and reduces control for incontinence [8].

Prioritizing drinking water and non-caffeinated drinks may also help with control. Experts advise to keep to a middle ground of volume, as too much or too little can put pressure on the bladder [6, 8]. Keeping a bladder diary, and focussing on drinking herbal teas and water earlier in the day is an option that can elevate control for the day and into the night.


What to do if you experience incontinence and products to help

Our mission is to create an informed community around incontinence. No one should feel alone or isolated with this symptom. If you think you may be suffering from incontinence after caffeine head to your doctor to discuss and receive professional advice and recommendations based on your symptoms.

Living with incontinence doesn’t need to be worrying or take over your life. With excellent products you can go about your day with ease, confidence and a pep in your step. These are our product recommendations for caffeine incontinence based on different levels of need.


For light bladder leakage

Our pads and guards are a great option for those with busy days and schedules. We have a wide selection with our Dailee Lady Pads offering six absorbency levels ranging from 120mL up to 1000mL, for the active woman with light bladder leakage.


For moderate bladder leakage

Providing extra protection for those that may need higher defense, our Dailee Pull-Ups are specifically designed for moderate urinary incontinence as well as managing some faecal occurrences. Being able to manage the absorption of between 1700mL and 2200mL, these unisex pants are the perfect higher protection option.

Equipped with patented Magical Tubes, a three-channel technology for fast-acting absorbency, they ensure confidence to meet the day. Coupled with their leg cuffs and leakage barriers, our Dailee Pull-Ups are a strong and reliable safeguard.

Your Cart

Order Summary

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue shopping