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The most effective treatment for you will depend on the type of incontinence, how severe it is and what’s causing it (see What Causes Incontinence?). The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on many factors such as age and gender.
For some types of urinary incontinence, you may only need to use some behavioral techniques and lifestyle modifications, such as:
- Bladder Retraining: This technique “teaches” your bladder to control the urge to urinate through delayed urination, “double voiding” (waiting a few minutes after you urinate and trying again), relaxation exercises and other practices.
- Timed Voiding: This involves urinating on a set schedule, usually every two to four hours, rather than waiting for the urge to go.
- Fluid and Diet Management: Your doctor may recommend cutting back on or eliminating alcohol, caffeine or acidic foods from your diet, which can help you regain control of your bladder.
To help strengthen the muscles that control your bladder, your doctor may recommend pelvic floor physical therapy. There are skilled physical therapists trained to help men and women with both stress and urge incontinence. Physical therapy often works very well when used in combination with behavioral techniques and/or medications.
Medication for Overactive Bladder
- Medications called “anticholinergics” can calm an overactive bladder and may be effective in controlling urge incontinence.
- For women, topical low-dose estrogen in the form of a vaginal cream, ring or patch can relieve dryness and correct the pH of the urethra and vaginal areas, which may reduce symptoms of overactive bladder.
When non-surgical techniques fail to help incontinence, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are a number of different surgical techniques to treat incontinence, including:
- Urethral Bulking Agent. This is an injection into the urethra (opening of the bladder) that makes the opening smaller in order to prevent urine leakage. In many cases, the injection can be done in a clinic.
- Sling Procedure. Your surgeon uses strips of your body’s tissue or a synthetic material to create a “sling” to support the urethra (opening of the bladder) during stress maneuvers such as a cough or sneeze. The sling will support the urethra, keeping it closed and preventing urine leakage. This procedure can be performed in men and women with incontinence.
- Artificial Urinary Sphincter. This procedure is for men whose urinary sphincter has been weakened from prostate cancer treatments or other causes of incontinence. Your surgeon implants a doughnut-shaped, fluid-filled device around the neck of your bladder to keep your urinary sphincter closed until you're ready to urinate. To urinate, you will press a valve that causes the ring to deflate and allows urine to flow.
Learn more about incontinence:
To learn more about incontinence treatments at Houston Methodist Urology Services or to make an appointment, please call us at 713-790-3333.