Steps to age-proof your bladder

Aging brings many physical changes we expect – gray hair, wrinkles, and arthritis are all obvious. But with each birthday, your urinary tract also ages, specifically your bladder. 

Bladder changes can manifest in several ways. Learning steps to practice improving bladder functioning can protect and preserve your bladder health now and in the future. 

Here are several changes within the bladder affected by growing older and steps to age-proof this organ:

  • Aging may cause changes in the urethra

For urine to be emptied and transported from the bladder to outside the body, it requires the urethra, a thin hollow tube. In men, the urethra is approximately 15-20 centimeters long and also provides an exit for semen.  A woman’s urethra is much shorter at approximately 4 centimeters. 

As men and women age, changes affecting the urethra can occur. The prostate gland in men, which surrounds the urethra, tends to enlarge with aging, causing several specific symptoms such as urinary frequency and urgency. In women, childbirth weakens pelvic muscles which may cause the bladder to slip out of place, leading to difficulty emptying the bladder. Both of these problems can block the flow of urine.  

Anyone having such symptoms should be evaluated by their doctor checking for any obstruction. 

      How to age-proof your urethra: 


  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear 
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants and nylon underwear. They can trap moisture helping grow bacteria



  • Aging may lead to bladder wall stiffening


With age, the muscles lining the bladder wall can become weaker and less flexible. In addition, the bladder wall can lose strength and its ability to stretch as it fills with urine, which can lead to incomplete elimination of urine. Problems with voiding require a urologist to make a proper diagnosis.

      How to age-proof the bladder wall: 


  • Practice Kegel exercises every day to strengthen the bladder wall helping hold in urine
  • Practice Pilates, which helps strengthen core muscles to reduce stress incontinence
  • Aging may mean more infections

When it comes to bladder infections, women are more likely to develop them.  About 10 percent of postmenopausal women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) each year. As women age, signs of a UTI include noticeable changes in urinary urgency, leakage, and pain in the lower back and abdomen. 

      How to reduce bladder infections:


  • Drink at least eight eight-ounce cups of water each day
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Women should always wipe front to back after using the restroom’
  • Empty the bladder after sex


  • Aging may result in more leakage and bladder stones

Incontinence is defined as an accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder.  Unfortunately, this potentially embarrassing and frustrating condition is more common the older you get. Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery to help relieve your symptoms. 

Bladder stones are another condition aging may increase. These painful, hard crystals of minerals build up inside your bladder and are more common in men than women.  If you have small stones, increasing fluid intake – especially water – can help them to pass. Other larger stones can be eliminated by passing a small tube through the urethra or during surgery.

How to reduce incontinence:


  • Reach a healthy body weight
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine
  • Schedule trips to the toilet throughout the day
  • Do Kegel exercises daily


How to reduce bladder stones:


  • Drinking plenty of water (at least 8 cups a day) to lower urine concentration 
  • Practice double voiding or take time to empty your bladder completely


  • Aging increases the risk of bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is ranked as the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Men are affected by this type of cancer far more than women, but all of us are at an increased risk as we age. Factors that increase a person’s risk include smoking, exposure to chemicals in the workplace, and family history.

Bladder cancer has many symptoms including blood in the urine, pain during urination, urinary frequency, feeling the need to urinate but having difficulty doing so, and pain in the lower back.  Even though these symptoms can signal other health problems, see your doctor to determine the cause and begin treatment if needed. 

How to reduce bladder cancer:


  • Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Don’t smoke
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit exposure to certain chemicals, especially in workplaces using paint, rubber, or printing materials 



Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.

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