Perhaps you leak urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze; maybe you can’t sleep through the night without having to go the bathroom multiple times; or you may experience sudden, strong urges that send you running on your feet searching for a restroom in the restaurant or on the road.
Whatever induces it, urinary incontinence – the loss of bladder control and accidental leakage of urine – is not a pleasant condition and can be a huge nuisance to deal with.
The good news is that for most people, simple lifestyle changes and medical treatment can improve their incontinence symptoms or even put an end to it altogether without even having to resort to drastic measures such as surgery.
Read on to learn what these lifestyle changes and treatments for incontinence are and whether they are the right fit for you.
Five common types of urinary incontinence
There are five common types of urinary incontinence and since symptoms and treatment options differ for every type, knowing all five of them can come in handy.
You might leak urine during physical activities that put pressure on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects.
You might feel a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. It is also known as an overactive bladder.
A combination of stress and urge incontinence.
You might experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to your bladder never being able to completely empty itself.
This type of incontinence occurs when there is a physical or mental impairment that makes it difficult for you to get to the bathroom in time. For example, if you have Parkinson’s disease you may not be able to unfasten your pants quickly due to shaking hands.
Non-surgical treatments for incontinence you should be know of
Depending on the type of urinary incontinence, the severity of its symptoms, the underlying cause, and your personal preferences, your doctor and you can settle on a treatment plan. Treatment usually starts with simple lifestyle changes and if they don’t work moves on to the other options until you find something that works for you.
The first line of urinary incontinence treatment your doctor would recommend. In some cases, changes such as cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, sodas and other bladder irritants, monitoring your fluid intake, following a high-fiber diet, and quitting smoking alone should be enough for managing incontinence.
The goal of this training is to increase the amount of time between trips to the toilet and the amount of fluid your bladder can hold. You start by trying to hold off for a few minutes every time you feel the urge to urinate. Over time, gradually increase the length between trips to the toilet until you’re urinating only every two to four hours.
You empty your bladder first, then wait a few minutes, and then try to empty your bladder again to completely empty your bladder of leftover urine from the first round.
Scheduled toilet trips:
You empty your bladder every 2-4 hours instead of waiting for the urge to go.
Pelvic floor exercises
Also known as Kegel exercises, help strengthen the muscles that provide support for urination. These exercises are particularly beneficial for people with stress, urge, and mixed incontinence.
To do Kegels, try to stop urinating midstream, the muscles you just used to stop the flow are the pelvic floor muscles. Once you’ve identified the muscles, tighten these muscles for 5-10 seconds, and relax for 5-10 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times in a row, three times per day. Gradually extend the duration of the tightening as you progress.
If you’re not able to perform pelvic floor exercises, electrical stimulation will be recommended. In this procedure, a small probe is inserted into your vagina or anus to send electrical stimulation and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles while you exercise them.
These medications work by relaxing the bladder muscles, reducing the urge to urinate. They are commonly prescribed for overactive bladder and urge incontinence.
This medication works by relaxing the bladder muscles and increasing the bladder capacity. It is often prescribed for overactive bladder and urge incontinence.
These medications help to relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck, making it easier to empty the bladder. They are often prescribed for men with overflow incontinence due to an enlarged prostate.
This medication is sometimes used in women to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve the tone of the urethral lining, reducing the risk of stress incontinence.
This medication is an antidepressant that can also be used as urinary incontinence medication to treat incontinence. It works by relaxing the bladder muscles and improving bladder control.
Urethral insert: A small, tampon-like device is inserted into the urethra before a specific activity that can trigger incontinence to prevent urine leakage, like tennis, or hiking.
Pessary: A small, flexible device is inserted into the vagina to support the bladder and prevent urine leakage.
When treatments are not effective, or you’re still trying to find the treatment that works for you, adult diapers have your back. Friends Adult Diapers are not big and bulky as you’d imagine; they are sleek, discreet, and made for the best of comfortability. They can also protect your skin against wetness, rashes, irritants, and infections and keep your skin fresh and healthy. With odour lock technology, side leak guards, wetness indicator, super soft waistbands and refastenable tapes, they are easy to use and dispose of.
If your bladder is not emptying completely every time you urinate, your doctor might suggest using catheters. A catheter is a hollow tube that is inserted into your bladder to empty your bladder. Your doctor will teach you how to insert a catheter yourself, as well as how to clean the catheters and yourself after use for safe reuse.
Now, if all these treatments prove inefficient and your doctor suggests surgical procedures, keep a clear head and try to understand the remaining options. With the advancement in medical technology, surgeries these days are less invasive – which means they only require smaller cuts, or no cuts at all – resulting in reduced pain, shorter stays at the hospital, and a faster recovery time. Within a week or two, you’ll be your old self again!
How do you fix urinary incontinence naturally?
Urinary incontinence can be improved or even fixed with certain lifestyle changes, such as:
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, strengthen the muscles that control urination.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce pressure on the bladder.
Avoiding or limiting consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and sodas, which can irritate the bladder.
Quitting smoking, as it can worsen incontinence.
Training the bladder to hold urine for longer periods of time by gradually increasing the time between bathroom trips.
Can you fix urinary incontinence without surgery?
Yes, urinary incontinence can be improved or even cured without surgery. Lifestyle changes, such as pelvic floor exercises, weight management, and bladder training, can help improve symptoms. Additionally, there are non-surgical medical treatments, such as medication and electrical stimulation therapy, that can also be effective.
What is the most effective treatment for incontinence?
The most effective treatment for incontinence depends on the cause and severity of the condition. In general, the following treatments may be effective:
Pelvic floor muscle exercises: Also known as Kegel exercises, these exercises help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and control urine flow.
Medications: Depending on the type of incontinence, medications such as anticholinergics or alpha blockers may help reduce symptoms.
Bladder training: This involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom breaks to help your bladder hold more urine.
Devices: Pessaries, urethral inserts, and other devices may help support the bladder or urethra and reduce symptoms.
Surgery: In severe cases or when other treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary to repair or support the bladder or urethra.
How long does it take for urinary incontinence to go away?
The length of time it takes for urinary incontinence to go away depends on the underlying cause of the condition and the treatment being used. In some cases, lifestyle changes and exercises can help improve symptoms within a few weeks. However, more severe cases of incontinence may require longer periods of treatment, and some cases may not completely resolve. It's important to discuss treatment options and expectations with your doctor.