woman with anxiety and incontinence

Anxiety and Leaks: Keep Calm and Carry-On

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “I was so scared I almost peed my pants” or the infamous, “that scared the poop (you know the other word) out of me!” Turns out, the sayings are quite literal. There is an interesting relationship between anxiety and leaks. Not only does anxiety turn on your sprinkler systems, but leaks can amp up your anxiety and cause you to leak MORE. Talk about a double whammy.

So at this point, you’re probably wondering why being anxious or stressed gives you the urge to go. Relax your pelvic floor as I uncover what leaks and anxiety have to do with each other.

We’re Scared To Accidentally Pee in Public

At a very young age, mom and dad taught us that peeing in public is a “no, no”. To even think about having an accident could make you anxious. Would the kids tease you? Or teachers shame you? Would you be deemed the cootie queen for life? Pretty stressful to think about, right? We carry those same feelings of shame and embarrassment into adulthood…but multiplied by 1000.

Multiply By 10K If You Have Anxiety

If you have anxiety, which so many people do, then you’ve probably experienced the urge to go when you’re feeling antsy and overwhelmed. But why? Well, our bladder is pretty darn sensitive to stress. When we’re anxious, we tend to tighten up. We typically feel it in our shoulders, but guess what else tightens up? Your pelvic floor. And a tense pelvic floor has a little trouble holding things together, which is why the pee starts flowing when you’re really scared.

Many people with anxiety disorder develop agoraphobia, which is when you fear certain places or situations. Some of us are terrified of clowns and others are afraid of leaking in public. It is what it is. But unfortunately, this worrying only makes your leaks worse.

Fight or Flight Mode

Our unique body is equipped with fight or flight, which is beneficial when we’re in a harmful, life-threatening situation. However, with anxiety, sometimes non-life-threatening situations cause the same physiological reaction. Doctors and scientists think that the excess adrenaline released when you’re in fight or flight mode makes you want to relieve yourself, which is why some people pee when they’re scared. Researchers also think that the kidneys produce more urine.

Give Yourself Peace of Mind

Anxiety sucks. Anxiety about peeing on yourself in front of all of your friends and family is terrifying. The first step is to replace anxious thinking with forward thinking. Here are a few things you can do to relax your mind (and pelvic floor muscles) so you can keep calm and carry on in public.

Tell Your Pelvic Floor Who’s Boss

Scared that you’ll let it all flow out if you sneeze? Try to take control of the moment. As you’re going “ah, ah, ah”, focus on tightening your pelvic floor muscles before you hit the big, “achoooo.” Practicing mental control can have a huge impact physically.

Pee With Purpose

Are you peeing with purpose? A lot of us think that just sitting on the toilet for a few seconds is productive peeing, but it’s not. Being tense on the toilet, which happens when you’re rushing, doesn’t allow you to relax enough to really empty the bladder. Remember, just let it flow when it’s time to go.

Have A Back-Up Pad, I Mean Plan

And sometimes we have to trick our minds and enforce a back-up plan. If you’ve got anxiety about leaks and that anxiety is causing more leaks, then consider buying products for bladder leaks. From pads and disposable underwear to bladder supports and pessaries, Lily Bird has an an option for you. Plus, you can skip the store and get them delivered straight to your door from Lily Bird. But wads of tissue in your underwear isn’t one – just saying. Oh yeah, don’t think about grabbing a pantyliner either – it’s not gonna work.

Making Nice in Leak-land

The relationship between anxiety and incontinence doesn’t have to be all bad. Let’s try to make nice in leak-land, shall we? We don’t do any name calling over here so don’t worry about being deemed cootie queen. We’re all about coming up with solutions.

So keep calm and carry-on by carrying pads, training your bladder, and peeing with purpose. The result? You’ll be less antsy about leaks in your panties.

Relax. Your bladder will thank you.

If you’re ready to tell your bladder who’s boss, Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered right to your door. Start your trial today.

By Jessica Thomas, MPH