Urinary Incontinence

Medical Treatment

Today, there are more treatments for urinary incontinence than ever be­fore. The choice of treatment depends on the type of bladder control problem you have, how serious it is, and what best fits your lifestyle. As a general rule, the simplest and safest treatments should be tried first.

Types of Treatments

If lifestyle changes and bladder training don’t help, your health care provider may suggest medical treatments. Medical treatments may include the following.

  • Medicines. If you have urgency urinary incontinence, your provider may prescribe a medicine to calm bladder muscles and nerves. These calming medicines help keep bladder muscles and nerves from making you urinate when you’re not ready. Medicines for urgency urinary incontinence come as pills, liquid, creams, or patches. No medicines treat stress urinary incontinence.
  • Medical devices. Some women may be able to use a medical device to help prevent leaking. One medical device -- called a urethral insert -- blocks the urethra for a short time to prevent leaking when it is most likely to happen, such as during physical activity. Another device -- called a pessary -- is put in the vagina to help hold up the bladder if you have a prolapsed bladder or vagina (when the vagina or bladder has shifted out of place).
  • Nerve stimulation. Nerve stimulation sends mild electric current to the nerves around the bladder that help control urination. Sometimes nerve stimulation can be done at home, by placing an electrode in the vagina or anus. Or, it may require minor surgery to place an electrode under the skin on the leg or lower back.
  • Surgery. Sometimes surgery can help fix the cause of urinary incontinence. Surgery may give the bladder and urethra more support or help keep the urethra closed during coughing or sneezing.