Urinary Incontinence

Urine leakage, or incontinence, may be a small annoyance or a large problem depending on the type and severity. Some types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence
  • Overactive bladder
  • Functional incontinence
  • Overflow incontinence

A combination of stress and urge incontinence is very common in women.

What you can do to help prevent or treat urinary incontinence

Some types of urinary incontinence are preventable, and all types are typically treatable.

Changing your behaviors may help prevent and treat incontinence. You might want to:

  • Strengthen the pelvic muscle with Kegel exercises
  • Urinate when you feel the urge to go
  • Manage you stress
  • Set a schedule for visiting the bathroom
  • Eliminate food or drinks that cause you to urinate more often
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthfully
  • Lose weight to relieve pressure on your bladder

If behavioral changes alone don't work, your doctor may also recommend:

  • Medication for an overactive bladder
  • Vaginal devices for stress incontinence
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Surgery to reposition the bladder
  • Catheterizations

How to talk to your doctor

Don't be embarrassed to talk to your doctor – bladder control problems are very common in women. Help your doctor diagnose and treat your problem by:

  • Keeping a daily bladder diary. Log how often you go to the bathroom and how often you experience urine leakage. Track the medication and liquids you intake.
  • Getting a physical exam. Give a urine sample for urinalysis. The doctor may examine your bladder using ultrasound or a cystoscope – a long tube inserted through the urethra.

Your doctor may recommend that you see a specialist who treats female urinary problems.