Urinary incontinence is any involuntary or unwanted loss of urine. It is considered a medical condition if it happens regularly. The risk of developing incontinence increases with age, but younger people may also develop it. If incontinence is frequent or affects your quality of life, it is important to seek medical advice. In most cases, incontinence can be treated or cured with various treatment options. Together with your doctor you can discuss which treatment is best for you.
Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, how severe it is, and what may cause it. There is no single solution to incontinence that works for everyone. The various treatment options for urinary incontinence can be grouped under self-management or lifestyle changes, drug treatment, and surgery.
What causes Urinary Incontinence?
Some of the most common causes of incontinence are:
Common risk factors include:
There are different types of urinary incontinence, depending on how and when you lose urine. This is related to which part of the lower urinary tract is affected:
Your doctor needs to find out which type of incontinence you have and what causes it. This will help to find the best treatment. Some of the tests that the doctor can perform to better understand your situation are:
Your doctor may also recommend a urodynamic evaluation, a uroflowmetry test, more invasive urodynamic testing, a cystoscopy, or imaging in case your diagnosis is unclear for some reason.
Your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder diary for a few days. Here you will note down how much you drink, how often you urinate, and how much urine you produce. The bladder diary is important because it helps your doctor to understand your symptoms better. You can download a bladder diary from the website.
Urinary incontinence can be an embarrassing and isolating condition that affects your physical and psychological health. Although it is not life-threatening, it usually has a negative impact on your quality of life. Incontinence can affect your social life, your work, and your sex life. It causes physical and emotional discomfort, and can lead to low self-esteem.
If you suffer from stress urinary incontinence (SUI), your doctor may recommend surgical treatment. Common treatment options for SUI are:
Sometimes self-management or the drugs your doctor prescribed do not improve your urgency urinary incontinence (UUI). In these cases, other treatment options are available. Together with your doctor you can decide which approach is best for you. Common treatment options for UUI are:
Bladder control depends on muscles working together when the bladder is filling with urine. The bladder muscle should be relaxed and the muscles around the urethra (the tube that urine passes through), called the pelvic floor muscles, should be tight. Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help hold urine inside the bladder, preventing leakage. These pelvic floor muscle exercises are commonly called "Kegel" exercises, named after the doctor who developed them.