If you're struggling with overactive bladder (OAB), urge incontinence or stress incontinence, Kegel exercises, lifestyle measures, and urinating according to a schedule can help prevent the leaks and discomfort that frequently accompany these conditions.
For those who still experience urinary symptoms, there are a number of effective medications and minimally invasive therapies to choose from. Ask your doctor if one of the following treatment options is right for you.
Medications for Overactive Bladder or Stress Incontinence
Drugs known as anticholinergics decrease bladder spasms by blocking the nerve impulses that cause them. More than 50 percent of women with OAB or urge incontinence see improvements with medication and lifestyle changes.
Urethral Injections for Stress Incontinence
A bulking agent is injected into the area around the urethra. One study found that 93 percent of women got relief from stress incontinence after one to two injections. Over time, results may diminish and you may need more injections.
Botox Injections for Overactive Bladder and Urge Incontinence
Botox is injected into the bladder wall to relax bladder muscles. (Keep in mind that this is a new treatment that may not be covered by insurance.)
Pessary for Stress and Urge Incontinence
A pessary is a small silicone device inserted into the vagina to support the urethra and pelvic floor muscles. A physician or specially-trained nurse will have to fit you at the office.
Urethral Sling Surgery for Stress Incontinence
If other treatments haven’t worked, a sling can be implanted under the urethra during a 30-minute outpatient procedure. Strenuous activity and exercise are off-limits for six weeks after surgery.
Transvaginal Electrical Stimulation for Stress and Urge Incontinence
You will insert a tampon-size probe with an electrical wire into the vagina to deliver a low level of stimulation. This is usually done twice a day for eight weeks and helps to improve contractions of muscles used to close the urethra.
Sacral Neuromodulation for Urge Incontinence and Overactive Bladder
A doctor implants a small battery-operated device into the buttock. The device, which remains in place, sends a constant,painless signal to the nerves in your lower back. About 80 to 90 percent of people see a benefit within two weeks.
Adapted from our sister publication, REMEDY's Healthy Living Fall 2012