Treatment for Bladder Control Problems

View of woman's legs in a bathroom

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Are you concerned because you've been leaking urine, urinating more frequently than usual, or experiencing other symptoms of urinary incontinence? You shouldn't feel ashamed, nor should you worry that you're overreacting. Reduced bladder control can seriously hinder your ability to live your life without restraint, and may also be an indicator of a more serious, underlying medical condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease. What can you do about it?

Do-It-Yourself Treatments

  • Pelvic muscle exercises: There are simple exercises you can learn that will enable you to strengthen the muscles near your urethra. These are called pelvic muscle exercises, or Kegel exercises, and you only have to spend just a few minutes a day on them.
  • Bladder training: You can train your bladder to hold urine better. Follow a timetable for storing and releasing urine. Over time, you may be able to decrease the urge to urinate.
  • Weight loss: Sometimes, extra weight can cause bladder control problems. A good meal plan and exercise program can lead to weight loss.
  • Diet: Some food and beverages make urine control tougher. These include items with caffeine—such as coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate—and alcohol. Your healthcare provider can suggest how to change your diet for better bladder control.

Muscle Therapy

  • Electrical stimulation: Certain devices stimulate the muscles around the urethra. This can make the muscles stronger and tighter, though research conducted over the years has not been able to make a final determination about the efficacy of this treatment.
  • Biofeedback: This takes the guesswork out of your pelvic muscle exercises. A therapist places a patch over your muscles. A wire connects the patch to a TV screen. You watch the screen to see if you're exercising the correct muscles. The hope is that, eventually, you will learn to control these muscles without the use of this biofeedback machine. Research has shown mixed results as to its efficacy.

Medical Treatments

  • Medicines: Depending on the cause of your urinary changes, drugs can be used to relax the bladder or the muscles around your urethra to help you flow better. It's important you get a full workup by your doctor before starting any new medications. Your doctor may choose to focus treatment on underlying medical problems like diabetes that could be causing your urinary symptoms.
  • Surgery: Some bladder control problems can be mitigated through surgery. Which operation your doctor suggests depends on what, exactly, is causing your particular problem. There are several minimally invasive procedures to help mitigate your urinary issues, which include opening up scars, injecting Botox into the bladder, using pacemakers for the bladder, or removal of cancers (if cancer is found to be the root cause).

Dryness Aids for Bladder Control Problems

While you should talk to your doctor if you're experiencing bladder control problems, there are items you can use at home to make these issues less disruptive to your home life. These include pads or diapers; a bedside urinal; help from health care workers; or even renovations to your home, such as the installation of a downstairs bathroom, or the widening of a bathroom door in order to fit a wheelchair.

Again, don't be ashamed of the problems you're experiencing. Many people—both those with male anatomy and those with female anatomy—have bladder control problems, whether because of aging or due to a medical condition. Your healthcare provider can help.

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  • The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
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