Today, there are more treatments for urinary incontinence than ever before. The choice of treatment depends on the type of bladder control problem you have, how serious it is, and what best fits your lifestyle. As a general rule, the simplest and safest treatments should be tried first.
Bladder Control Training
Your doctor may suggest bladder training to help you get better control of your bladder. With bladder training, you can change how your body stores and releases urine. There are several ways to do this:
- Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) work the muscles that you use to stop urinating. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer.
How To Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises help tighten your pelvic floor muscles. It’s easier to learn them when lying down. Locate the pelvic muscles by pretending to stop the flow of urine. Squeeze and hold these muscles for a count of 3, then relax them for a count of 3. Your goal is to try to do a set of 10, rest, and then do 2 more sets each day. Your doctor can give you more exact directions.
- Biofeedback uses sensors to make you aware of signals from your body. This may help you regain control over the muscles in your bladder and urethra. Biofeedback can be helpful when learning pelvic muscle exercises.
- Timed voiding may help you control your bladder. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule, for example, every hour. You can slowly extend the time between bathroom trips. When timed voiding is combined with biofeedback and pelvic muscle exercises, you may find it easier to control urge and overflow incontinence.
- Lifestyle changes that may help with incontinence include losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, drinking less caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and many sodas), preventing constipation, and not lifting heavy objects.
Besides bladder control training, you may want to talk to your doctor about other ways to help manage incontinence:
- Some drugs can help the bladder empty more fully during urination. Other drugs tighten muscles and can lessen leakage. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and side effects of using these medicines.
- A doctor may inject a substance that thickens the area around the urethra to help close the bladder opening. This reduces stress incontinence in women. This treatment may have to be repeated.
- Special devices for both men and women could help control incontinence.
- Surgery can sometimes improve or cure incontinence if it’s caused by a change in the position of the bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate.
You can buy special absorbent underclothing that can be worn under everyday clothing.
If you suffer from urinary incontinence, tell your doctor. Remember, under a doctor’s care, incontinence can be treated and often cured. Even if treatment is not fully successful, careful management can help you feel more relaxed and confident.