Are Your Medications Causing Bladder Leaks?

Bladder leakage, referred to as urinary incontinence (UI), can be caused by many things, like hormonal changes, weak pelvic floor muscles, and prostate problems. But did you know you might also experience leaks due to the medications you take?

It’s important to be aware of which medications induce incontinence so you can find the proper treatment for your symptoms. Use this article to learn how diuretics, sedatives, narcotics, and even antihistamines can cause urine leakage and find solutions to your symptoms.

What Is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine due to a lack of bladder control.

There are many reasons a medication could be the cause of your bladder leakage, including:

Types of Urinary Incontinence

  • Stress incontinence: Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, bend over, or exercise. 
  • Overactive bladder (OAB): OAB, also called urge incontinence, presents itself as a strong and sudden urge to urinate that can cause accidental leakage. OAB may also cause increased and frequent urination.

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  • Functional incontinence: Having control of your bladder but experiencing urinary accidents after not being able to reach a toilet in time due to a mobility issue or physical or mental disabilities. 
  • Mixed incontinence: Experiencing two or more types of incontinence symptoms at once (for example, urge incontinence and stress incontinence).

Which Medications Cause Bladder Leaks?

There are many reasons a medication could be the cause of your bladder leakage, including:


Diuretics are sometimes referred to as water pills. These types of medications help get rid of excess water and salt in your body and are often used to treat high blood pressure. Diuretics increase how much urine is made by your kidneys.

Bladder Issues Caused by Diuretics

  • More urination than what’s typical (more than 8 times a day and more than 2 times a night).

Medication Names

  • Esidrix
  • Oretic
  • Hydrodiuril
  • Lasix
  • Bumex
  • Maxzide


Antidepressants are given to people who have depression. They change the way the neurotransmitters in your brain work, but they can also cause issues with bladder contractions. Antidepressants may cause symptoms of overflow incontinence as well.

Bladder Issues Caused by Antidepressants

  • Bladder contraction issues.
  • Nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting).
  • Decreasing your awareness of going to the bathroom.

Medication Names

  • Bupropion
  • Other common SSRIs (citalopram, Prozac, etc.).
  • The medications you take could reduce your bladder’s ability to resist urine leakage by increasing the pressure between the bladder and urethra.
  • Your medications could disrupt your central nervous system (CNS), changing the way you void your bladder. 
  • Medications could cause your body to produce more urine, leading to more frequent urination or urges to urinate.

Bladder Issues Caused by Blood Pressure Medications

  • Relax the bladder neck which helps stop and start the flow of urine, leading to leakage when laughing, exercising, coughing, or sneezing.

Medication Names

  • Hytrin
  • Cardura
  • Minipress

Blood Pressure Medications

Blood pressure medications are alpha-adrenergic antagonists that are given to individuals with high blood pressure. These medications lower your blood pressure by opening up the blood vessels in your body. Blood pressure medication may relax your bladder and can cause urine leakage.


Narcotics are given to individuals to treat moderate to severe pain. They bind to opioid receptors in the CNS and therefore may interrupt your bodily signals that tell you you need to use the toilet.Because narcotics also cause drowsiness and sedation, they can lead to multiple issues with the bladder.

Bladder Issues Caused by Narcotics

  • Relax the bladder which can lead to urine leakage.
  • Cause the bladder to retain more urine.
  • Lack of concern to use the bathroom, resulting in accidents.
  • Inability to begin voiding the bladder.
  • Straining the pelvic floor muscles when voiding, which can cause pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • More frequent urination.

Medication Names

  • Percocet
  • Morphine
  • Demerol


Antihistamines are over-the-counter medications that are taken for allergic reactions to things like pollen, animal fur / hair, and dander. Antihistamines block your body’s reaction to histamines in your body, but they can also relax your bladder and cause issues for your urinary system.

Bladder Issues Caused by Antihistamines

  • The bladder relaxes which causes urine retention. This can lead to leftover urine in the bladder, causing leakage.

Medication Names

  • Benadryl
  • Chlor-Trimeton

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants are given to people who need treatment for spasticity, musculoskeletal pain, and muscle spasms. These medications affect your CNS and act as a sedative. Because of this, they can also cause drowsiness or sedation, which relaxes the urethra.

Bladder Issues Caused by Muscle Relaxants

  • Relaxes the urethra, leading to leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting heavy objects. 
  • Frequent urination.

Medication Names

  • Valium
  • Ativan

Preventing & Treating Bladder Leaks

1. Bladder control products. Incontinence products are an excellent and easy way to manage bladder leakage caused by medications, especially if your healthcare provider recommends that you don’t stop taking your medication for other health reasons.

2. Medication & Symptom Tracking. You should monitor your body’s response to the medications you’re taking. You can do this by keeping a bladder diary or a medication log and sharing the results with your healthcare provider. 

3. Diet Changes. Certain foods and drinks can actually irritate your bladder and cause increased urges to urinate or more frequent trips to the bathroom. Avoid these foods to decrease bladder irritation:

  • Caffeine
  •  Alcohol
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Tomato-based products
  • Spicy foods
  • Artificial dyes 

4. Kegel Exercises. Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels will increase your pelvic floor strength over time and lessen symptoms of stress incontinence. Both men and women can do pelvic floor exercises, so find which type fits best in your workout routine.

5. Fluid Restrictions. If you’re experiencing nocturnal enuresis, you can try limiting your fluid intake in the evenings up until before bedtime. Just be sure you don’t limit your fluid intake during the day; dehydration can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder irritation due to your urine being more concentrated.

When to See a Doctor

You should see your healthcare provider or a provider who specializes in UI, such as a urologist, if you suspect that your medications are causing bladder problems. You should also see one of the providers mentioned if you begin experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting heavy objects.
  • Dribbling urine after emptying your bladder.
  • Feeling the sudden and intense urge to urinate more than usual 
  • Urinating more than 8 times in a day or 2 times at night

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About the Author

Marlee Septak is the Marketing Copywriter for Aeroflow Urology. She has a passion for working with organizations that aim to better the world, such as Awareness Film Festival, The Borgen Project, and Aeroflow. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago and holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism with a concentration in Magazine Writing. Marlee has contributed to various magazines and blogs, including Borgen Magazine, Echo Magazine, Chicago Ideas Week, Assuaged, and Peaceful Dumpling. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and just sitting down with a good book.


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‌Izci, F., Iris Koc, M., Bilici, R., Yalcin, M., & Bestepe, E. E. (2015). Urinary Incontinence during Sleep Associated with Extended Release Form of Bupropion HCI. Case Reports in Psychiatry, 2015, 1–3. 

‌Tsakiris, P., Oelke, M., & Michel, M. C. (2008). Drug-induced urinary incontinence. Drugs & Aging, 25(7), 541–549.  

‌NHS. (2017, October 17). Antihistamines.