The answer to this question is a resounding “NO!” The bladder is made up of smooth muscle, over which we don’t have voluntary control. Muscles that we can voluntarily contract and relax and strengthen are called skeletal muscles. Our pelvic floor is made up of these types of muscles – skeletal muscles – and controls the passage of solids, feces, and gas from our bodies. These muscles include the sphincter muscles, the urogenital triangle, and the levator ani (which is made up of the pubococcygeus, illiococcygeus, and puborectalis muscles). The names of these muscles are not so important to remember, but their actions are.
The pelvic floor muscles perform two very important and distinct actions. The first is to tighten around the openings of our pelvic floor (you can contract those muscles by simulating stopping the flow of urine or the passing of gas). The second action is to elevate or to draw up the pelvic floor from its relaxed position (in this state, it’s shaped like a bowl) to a flattened, tighter position, higher within our pelvic outlet (the space bordered by our two sit bones, our pubic bone, and our tail bone, also known as our coccyx), giving better support to bladder, bowel, and uterus.
So the answer is that your leaking is not due to a weak bladder, but rather to weak pelvic floor muscles. The good news is that you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to stop this leaking by following an appropriate pelvic floor strengthening exercise program. You can get a specific pelvic floor strengthening program through physical therapist-guided DVDs or books or, if you prefer, through one-on-one coaching from a physical therapist. You can find a physical therapist in your area who focuses on women’s health by clicking on the link on our www.hab-it.com website.