How can it be treated?
Treatment depends on what's causing the problem and what type of incontinence you have. If your urinary incontinence is caused by a medical problem, the incontinence will go away when the problem is treated. Kegel exercises and bladder training help some types of incontinence through strengthening the pelvic muscles. Medicine and surgery are other options.
What are Kegel exercises?
Stress incontinence can be treated with special exercises, called Kegel exercises (see the box below). These exercises help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. They can be done anywhere, any time. Although designed for women, the Kegel exercises can also help men. It may take 3 to 6 months to see an improvement.
- To locate the right muscles, try stopping or slowing your urine flow without using your stomach, leg or buttock muscles. When you're able to slow or stop the stream of urine, you've located the right muscles.
- Squeeze your muscles. Hold for a count of 10. Relax for a count of 10.
- Repeat this 10 to 20 times, 3 times a day.
- You may need to start slower, perhaps squeezing and relaxing your muscles for 4 seconds each and doing this 10 times, 2 times a day. Work your way up from there.
What is bladder training?
Bladder training is a way of learning to manage urinary incontinence. It is generally used for stress incontinence, urge incontinence or a combination of the 2 types (mixed incontinence). Some bladder training techniques are explained in “Bladder Training for Urinary Incontinence”.
Will medicine or surgery help?
Medicine helps some types of urinary incontinence. For example, estrogen cream to put in the vagina can be helpful for some women who have mild stress incontinence. Several prescription medicines are available to treat urge incontinence. For men, prescription medicine is available to shrink the prostate and improve flow of urine through the prostate. Talk to your doctor about possible medicine options for your type of incontinence.
Surgery can sometimes be helpful, especially in stress incontinence in women and in overflow incontinence in men due to an enlarged prostate. It is usually only performed if other treatments haven't worked or if the incontinence is severe.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff