Treating bladder control problems.Your treatment will depend on the type of bladder control problem you have. Some treatments are simple. Others are more complicated. Your health care team may suggest one of the following treatments:
Do-it-yourself treatments for bladder control problems:
Pelvic muscle exercisesYou can learn simple exercises that can strengthen the muscles near the urethra. These are called pelvic muscle exercises or Kegel exercises and take only a few minutes a day.
Bladder trainingYou can train your bladder to hold urine better. Follow a timetable to store and release urine. You can also learn to decrease the urge to urinate.
Weight loss.Sometimes extra weight causes bladder control problems. A good meal plan and exercise program can lead to weight loss.
Food and drink.Some drinks and foods may make urine control harder. These include foods with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, or chocolate) and alcohol. Your health care team can suggest how to change your diet for better bladder control.
Muscle therapy for bladder control problems:
Electrical stimulationCertain devices stimulate the muscles around the urethra. This makes the muscles stronger and tighter.
BiofeedbackThis takes the guesswork out of pelvic muscle exercise. A therapist places a patch over the muscles. A wire connects the patch to a TV screen. You watch the screen to see if you are exercising the right muscles. The therapist will help you. Soon you learn to control these muscles without the patch or screen.
Medical treatments for bladder control problems:
MedicinesCertain drugs can tighten or strengthen urethral and pelvic floor muscles. Other medicines can calm overactive bladder muscles.
SurgerySome bladder control problems can be solved by surgery.
Many different operations can improve bladder control. The operation depends on what is causing the problem. In most cases, the surgeon changes the position of the bladder and urethra. After the operation, the bladder control muscles work better.
Soon, you will be able to buy new products. These products help control leaks. They do not cure the causes of bladder control problems.
Devices for bladder control problems:
PessaryYour doctor can place a special device called a pessary (PESS-uh-ree) in the vagina. The device will hold up the bladder to prevent leakage.
Urethral insertsYour doctor may give you a small device that goes directly in the urethra. You can learn to insert the device yourself. It's like a little plug. You remove the device when it is time to go to the bathroom and then replace it until it's time to go again.
Urine sealsThis is a small foam pad you place over the urethra opening. There it seals itself against your body to keep urine from leaking. When you go to the bathroom, you remove the pad and throw it away.
Dryness Aids for bladder control problems:
Pads or diapersPads or diapers help many people. But diapers do not cure bladder control problems. See a doctor or nurse, even if diapers are working for you.
Bedside urinal.Some people use a bed pan or a bedside chair urinal (YOOR-uh-nul) or commode.
AssistanceIf you are disabled, health care workers can help you move more easily to a toilet. Your doctor or nurse may teach you to urinate on a schedule that prevents wetting.
RenovationsSometimes, you just need a carpenter to make changes to your house. Perhaps you need a hallway light. Or a downstairs bathroom. Another solution could be widening a bathroom door to fit a wheelchair.
Points to Remember
- Many women have bladder control problems.
- Bladder control problems do not have to be a normal part of
aging. Many medical conditions can cause bladder problems.
- Try not to let embarrassment about bladder control problems
keep you from talking to your health care team.
- Most cases of poor bladder control can be improved
- Ask your health care team for help.
Reprinted from the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse