Before we ask ourselves why me? What has caused me to suffer urinary incontinence? Let’s learn a little about how our urinary system works.

The kidneys
The Kidneys

The kidneys are 2 bean shaped organs situated at either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib

cage. They are filters, which filter out waste products and water from the bloodstream. The waste and water

are filtered into the bladder via the ureters. There is one ureter per kidney, which is the tube that the

urine travels from the kidney into the bladder.

The Bladder

The bladder is a balloon like sack that consists of a flexible sac of muscle (the detrusor muscle). The

bladder changes shape and expands when it holds urine, and deflates when the bladder is emptied. It lies

just under the belly button (navel). In women it lies just in front of the uterus (womb)
The bladder of the adult human can hold over a pint (0.6 litres) of urine. When the level of urine reaches

about half this amount, pressure of the accumulating fluid stimulates nervous impulses that relax the

external sphincter, a muscle that forms a thick band around the urethra at the base of the bladder. Messages

are sent from the nerves in the detrusor muscle to the brain via the spinal column telling you that you need

to urinate. This muscle can be controlled voluntarily in adults and children learn to control this

sphincter. The muscles in the wall of the bladder also contract, forcing urine out through the urethra (the

tube that passes the urine from the bladder out of the body.


During storage the urine is retained in the bladder by a ring of two muscles at the bottom of the bladder,

called the urethral sphincter, which squeezes shut automatically.

The two mechanisms of the sphincter muscles are:

– The internal sphincter. A ring of muscle that holds the neck of the bladder n place. This opens and closes

involuntarily. It is controlled by nerve receptors.

– The external sphincter (distal sphincter) This is opened and shut like a tap, which is controlled by you

via the pudendal nerve through the voluntary nervous system.

The Urethra


This is the tube that evacuates urine from the bladder out of the body.
It is about 1.5 inches (3.8cm) long in women and about 8 inches (20cm) long in men.