You’re not alone. While we’ll continue to say this at every step of the way, maybe sometimes it’s best to show you as well. We’ve gathered some of the most commonly Googled questions (in all their awkward glory) about treating urinary incontinence, in hopes of shedding light on questions you may be asking yourself as well.
We asked our Urogynocological Medical Advisors to answer each and every one of them. We hope you find their answers as helpful and informative as we did, but of course, please see your health care providers for the personalized care that you deserve.
Women often ask: "Can incontinence be cured? How to cure incontinence?"
A: Yes, it is possible for incontinence to be cured. However, while urinary incontinence has many treatments, some are more effective than others. The right treatment for you, depends on your body and the type of incontinence that you are experiencing. Oftentimes UI can be cured or controlled, so it’s important to consult your health care practitioner to determine the best course of treatment.
There are also many ways to manage incontinence so that you can continue living a normal and active life, regardless of whether or not your incontinence is fully cured. Your healthcare provider can best advise you on options to treat and/or manage your incontinence. Your primary care physician may refer you to a urologist or urogynecologist for consultation about treatment or potential cures.
Women often ask: "What to do for incontinence?"
A: As mentioned above, there are a variety of things you can do for urinary incontinence. Options include medical procedures like surgeries or injections, or less invasive options like changes in diet or engaging in a pelvic floor exercise regimen. However, likely the first thing ‘to do’ when experiencing incontinence is to purchase, and wear, incontinence products to prevent leaks from disrupting your lifestyle. By using incontinence products you can manage your symptoms as you work out the right options for UI treatment moving forward. The next thing to do for urinary incontinence is to consult your doctor to find out the right treatment for you.
Women often ask: "What are my options for treatment? How to treat urinary incontinence? How to treat incontinence?"
A: There are a variety of options in terms of treatments for urinary incontinence, varying in invasiveness and type. The type of incontinence you have will also dictate what treatments are best, which is why it is important to consult with your doctor so that he or she can provide you with the right set of treatments for you.
Treatments for urinary incontinence include:
Bladder training: By delaying urination for a few minutes at a time, you may be able to retrain your bladder to hold urine for longer periods of time. This can lead to improvement in the amount of time you need to empty your bladder and in time relieve your symptom of urinary frequency.
Double voiding: After you think you have finished urinating, leaning forward and giving an extra push can help you empty your bladder better. This can ensure the bladder is completely empty.
Scheduled toilet trips: Emptying your bladder on a schedule can decrease the accidents that happen with sporadic visits.
Fluid and diet management: cutting out bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages and acidic foods can decrease urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence. Also liquid reduction and weight loss can significantly help incontinence symptoms.
Bladder sling surgery: In bladder sling surgery material is used to create a sling or hammock around the urethra to help prevent leakage from the urethra, and keep it closed during physical activity.
Bladder neck suspension: This surgery is done to help lift the bladder and urethra back to their normal position performed on those who have stress incontinence. The Bladder neck is the specific part of the bladder where the urethra inserts into the bladder. It is important to distinguish this surgery from ‘bladder lift’ surgery which is a prolapse repair.
Bulking material injections: Material is injected into the urethra to help bulk it up and keep it closed to prevent leakage during physical activity. Bulking material injections are a treatment for stress incontinence.
Botox: Botox injections are used to treat OAB. Botox is injected into the bladder muscles to relax them.
Nerve stimulators: A nerve in the leg can be stimulated by an external battery pack. This nerve in the leg enters the spinal cord at the same level as the bladder nerves. This office procedure is thought to work because of cross talk between the nerve in the leg and the bladder control nerves. Similarly a surgery can be performed to place a nerve stimulator placed under the skin. This nerve stimulator sends electrical pulses to the bladder control nerves to combat OAB.
Anticholinergics and Mirabegron can all be taken for different types of incontinence, they each work differently to relax the bladder.
Topical Estrogen can be used in the form of a cream, ring or patch and has the possibility of helping revitalize the tissues in the urethral and vaginal areas which can improve incontinence.
Urethral insert: Like a tampon, this insert is inserted in the urethra before an activity that might lead to an incontinent episode, to act as a urination plug. This option for treatment is rarely used.
Pessary: A pessary is a silicone ring with a knob which is inserted in the vagina to support the urethra and prevent stress incontinence. Other types of pessaries are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse.
Using Incontinence Products:
Using incontinence pads and protective garments - this is the easiest way to manage incontinence. Good incontinence products will absorb leaks, wicking them away from the skin, while masking odor. Good products will also not show through clothing or leak. They come in a variety of types, sizes and absorbencies. Products can be either reusable or disposable. The important thing to remember is not to use period products for incontinence, as they are not meant to absorb urine and thus can leak, cause irritation, and get oversaturated.
Women often ask: "What about Kegels? Do kegels help bladder incontinence? Do kegels help with urinary incontinence?"
A: Yes, pelvic floor muscle exercises, otherwise known as kegels, can be helpful in managing your urinary incontinence. Kegels are best for managing and decreasing the symptoms of stress incontinence, but constantly practicing your kegels can also help women manage and alleviate urge incontinence. Kegels work by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. You can perform kegels at any time by tightening and ‘lifting’ the pelvic floor muscles. One should focus on tightening these muscles for three seconds, and then releasing. It is recommended to do kegels in sets of 10 to 15 and to repeat the exercise multiple times a day to keep your pelvic floor strong. You can squeeze these pelvic floor muscles before sneezing, coughing, and laughing to help with stress incontinence. You can also do a few quick squeezes when you get the urge to urinate to help the urge subside and give you more time to get to the bathroom.
Women often ask: "Do ben wa balls really help with incontinence?"
A: Some ask if ben wa balls really help with incontinence - while some say that they can have positive effects on bladder control, there is no medical backing to this claim. Ben wa balls are also called ‘kegel balls’, they are inserted into the vaginal canal and used to aid in the strengthening of the pelvic floor. Ben wa balls work when combined with kegel exercises to potentially strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Stronger pelvic floor muscles can help with bladder control and thus incontinence. However use of Ben Wa balls run the risk of tearing your muscles or overexertion. You should check in with your doctor before attempting to use kegel balls on your own.