Treatment of Urinary Incontinence: What to Know

If you suffer from a loss of bladder control, your doctor may diagnose you with urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a common condition in which there is a strong, sudden urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary bladder contraction. An involuntary loss of urine can also result from a sneeze, laugh or cough.

Types of urinary incontinence

There are four main types of incontinence, these include:

  • Stress incontinence
    This is the most common type of urinary incontinence, which is a weakening of the pelvic floor. It often occurs following pregnancy and childbirth. Stress incontinence can also result from being overweight, taking certain medications or, specific to men, prostate surgery.
  • Urge incontinence
    Often referred to as overactive bladder, urge incontinence causes an urgent need to urinate. It may be the result of nerve or muscle damage in the bladder, or damage to the nervous system.
  • Overflow incontinence
    Overflow incontinence is an inability to fully empty the bladder, which may cause a slow leak of urine and lead to infections or other issues.
  • Functional incontinence
    Functional incontinence occurs when there is a mental or physical limitation that prevents you from getting to the bathroom in time.

Urinary incontinence treatment options

Treatments vary depending on the type of incontinence, its severity and underlying cause. Here are common treatment options:

  • Bladder training
    Pelvic floor, or Kegel, exercises help naturally restore the muscles that help control urination. In addition to strengthening exercises, you can train your bladder through delaying the urge to urinate, double voiding (urinating once, waiting a few minutes, then urinating again), and scheduling regular bathroom breaks every 2-3 hours.
  • Medications
    Medications are typically used in combination with other forms of treatment. Medications like anticholinergics, topical estrogen and imipramine work to either calm overactive bladders, reinforce tissue in the urethra, or relax the bladder muscles.
  • Medical devices
    Urinary incontinence can be controlled in females through a number of different devices, such as:

    • Urethral insert to help keep the urethra closed
    • Pessary to help keep pressure off the bladder
    • Radiofrequency therapy to help strengthen the urinary tract
    • Botox to help calm overactive bladder muscles
    • Bulking agent to help keep the urethra closed
    • Sacral nerve stimulator to help stimulate the nerves that control the bladder
  • Surgery
    Surgery is often used as a last resort, when other therapies don’t work. These are generally not recommended for women who plan to have children:

    • Sling procedure
      This procedure helps close the urethra and bladder neck; preventing urine loss.
    • Colposuspension
      This procedure helps lift the bladder neck to relieve stress incontinence.
    • Artificial sphincter
      This procedure places an artificial valve into the bladder to help control the flow of urine into the urethra.
  • Urinary catheter
    This treatment places a tube from the bladder, through the urethra and into a bag outside the body.
  • Absorbent pads
    Similar to feminine napkins, absorbent pads may be purchased at any local pharmacy or grocer.

For more information about treatments and solutions for urinary incontinence, call Bay Area Physicians for Women at 251-344-5900. We’ll help restore your bladder function and help you feel confident again.