1. Home
  2. /
  3. News
  4. /
  5. How Smoking Can Affect Incontinence

How Smoking Can Affect Incontinence

There are many well-known health dangers that come with smoking. But did you know that it could also be affecting your continence?

5 min read
Share:
How Smoking Can Affect Incontinence
Table of contents

How Smoking Can Affect Incontinence

There are many well-known health dangers that come with smoking. But did you know that it could also be affecting your continence?

How Do I Know If I'm Using the Right Incontinence Product?

Continence management products can set you free to live every day to the full. Here’s what you need to know about finding the right product for your needs.

Smoking has a large number of dangerous side effects which can compromise many aspects of a person's health.

The chemicals and toxins inhaled from a single cigarette can affect almost every cell, system and organ in the body.

As a major contributor to lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among many other conditions and diseases, smoking can also have an affect on a person's continence, or incontinence.

Smoking and incontinence

Studies have shown that people who smoke are at an increased risk for developing incontinence, namely urinary incontinence.

One study which examined the smoking habits of 10,000 women found that the prevalence of urgency urinary incontinence was increased in smokers, and ex-smokers, compared to non-smokers.

So how exactly does smoking contribute to incontinence?

Well, there's a couple of main reasons. The first is more specific to regular, long-term smokers. Over time, smokers can develop a chronic cough, which can actually put a large amount of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. The muscles can weaken from consistent, hard coughing and increase the chances of developing stress incontinence, one of the types of urinary incontinence.

The second reason why smoking can affect incontinence, is that cigarettes act a bladder irritant. The chemicals in a cigarette, when inhaled, affect the lining of the bladder and may increase the risk of cell mutations which can cause bladder cancer.

Urological conditions affected by smoking

There are a number of urological conditions that can be triggered and/or exacerbated by smoking. These include:

Overactive Bladder

This urological condition causes a person to feel like they need to pass urine frequently, regardless of whether or not the bladder is actually full. People with this condition can also experience episodes of incontinence as there may be times they do have urine to release and are unable to make it to the bathroom in time.

One of the main causes of overactive bladder is smoking, because as we mentioned earlier on in this article, the chemicals in cigarettes irriate the lining of the bladder. It's reported that smoking can make you three times more likely to experience overactive bladder symptoms compared to a non-smoker.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Smoking can damage your blood vessels, and given ED is often caused by poor blood supply to the penis you can understand how smoking is a trigger.

It's estimated that around 20 per cent of ED cases also experience incontinence issues. One study found that ED was more likely in men who smoke or smoked, and particularly for younger men.

Kidney Cancer

The kidneys are responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood. If a person smokes, the toxins from the cigarette enters the bloodstream and ends up being carried into the kidney for filtration. They can then get stuck and build up in the kidneys, which may lead to kidney cancer.

Incontinence can be a symptom of kidney cancer. Because the kidneys remove waste and extra water into urine, if this process is compromised because of kidney cancer, or kidney disease, it may lead to instances of urinary incontinence.

Prostate Cancer

Smoking is a trigger for a number of cancers, prostate cancer included.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in Australia, with 1 in 5 likely to be diagnosed by the time they're aged 85. So making as many positive lifestyle choices as possible to prevent this, such as quitting smoking, is crucial.

Smoking increases inflammation in your body as a whole, but also in your prostate, which can be a risk factor for developing cancer. The John Hopkins Medical Centre published in 2003 that smoking tends to make cases of prostate cancer more aggressive and harder to treat.

Interstital Cystitis

Interstital cystitis (IC) is a a chronic condition that causes bladder pain and pressure, as well as pelvic pain. This condition is also known as Bladder Pain Syndrom (BPS).

Tobacco can actually aggravate symptoms of IC, including the increased urgency and frequency of urination which can lead to bouts of incontinence if the person with IC can't make it to the bathroom in time.

What about second-hand smoke?

If you're not a smoker, you may be wondering whether second-hand smoke can even lead to medical conditions and even incontinence issues.

While of course the chances are not as high as if you were smoking directly, one study found there was a 20-30% increase in the risk of developing lung cancer. Another meta-analysis of 4 studies found that second-hand smoke exposure was linked to a 22% increase in bladder cancer risk.

How To Quit Smoking & Manage Incontinence


Quitting smoking reduces the risks of many cancers and other health conditions over time. For bladder cancer, which can cause incontinence, research shows the risk drops steadily as the number of years since quitting smoking increases - with a definite reduction within a 10 year period.

For help in taking the step to quit smoking you can visit your GP, or call one of the numbers on this website for support.

If you find that you are experiencing incontinence episodes, don't worry, we're here to help on that front.

Not only do we stock a superior quality, European-made range of incontinence pads, pull ups and adult nappies that suit all levels of need, our team of helpful product specialists can also help you decipher which product is best suited to you. You can call them 6 days a week on 0800 088 5955 or email at hello@confidenceclub.co.uk.

If you're more of a self-starter, you can even try taking our online Help Me Choose quiz. This asks you a few simple but comprehensive questions to then suggest products based on your answers.

By the way, if this is your first time buying and trying incontinence products, rest-assured doing so with ConfidenceClub is completely risk-free. We offer a 100% moneyback guarantee on any items that you're not 100% satisfied with.