What are nonsurgical solutions to treat urinary incontinence?

Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine. Greater than 50% of postmenopausal women have experienced urinary incontinence.  There are numerous nonsurgical methods for treating urinary incontinence with the most common being Kegel exercises.  Kegel exercises are known to remedy 65% of mild stress urinary incontinence(SUI). People with SUI leak urine when they cough, sneeze, or do any type of physical activity.  Biofeedback is another procedure that is used for the treatment of urinary incontinence.  This is a nonsurgical treatment in which a physical therapist uses a pelvic stimulator to contract the pelvic floor muscles and tighten the vagina. This will help patients with their ability to do Kegel exercises.  Lastly, many patients have learned to time their voiding patterns as well as to retrain their bladder to help decrease their SUI. 

 There is a subset of patients who do not leak urine when coughing and sneezing or exercise, but they have what is called urgency incontinence or bladder spasms.  These patients  have a severe urge to urinate and they, at times, do not make it to the restroom.  These patients can also be treated with timed voiding patterns in which they never let their bladder get too full. Dietary changes may also help.  Many patients with urgency incontinence have a significant problem with caffeinated drinks as well as carbonated drinks. The avoidance of this will help decrease their urgency symptoms.  The last method in treating urgency incontinence is medication that will help relax the bladder, and these medications work very well but do have some side effects of dry mouth and constipation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.