Urinary incontinence affects a quarter to a third of men and women in the U.S., about 30 percent of women aged 30-60 and 1.5-5% of men, according to the American Urological Association. Defined as the loss of bladder control, urinary incontinence and bladder leakages can drastically affect a person’s life, limiting the ability to perform job duties, participate in leisure activities, travel, and more. For those with urinary incontinence, knowing how to stop bladder leakages makes all the difference.
The good news is that there are ways to reduce symptoms and regain control of your life, from holistic lifestyle interventions to advanced therapies. Learn more about how to stop bladder leakages below.
Treatment Depends on the Cause of Incontinence
It’s important to note that there are different types of urinary incontinence and that the condition can have many potential causes.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
It’s important to note that there are different types of urinary incontinence and that the condition can have many potential causes. Types of urinary incontinence, often defined how an individual experiences incontinence, include:
Urge incontinence: Experiencing urges to urinate that are so strong you often cannot make it to the restroom in time, leading to bladder leakages. Urge incontinence is part of a medical condition called Overactive Bladder (OAB).
Stress incontinence: Experiencing urine leaks when stress or pressure is put on the bladder from actions such as coughing, sneezing, standing, or exercising. Stress incontinence in women is often related to pregnancy and childbirth while in men it may occur following certain treatments for prostate conditions.
Mixed incontinence: Experiencing both urge incontinence and stress incontinence.
The incontinence treatment recommended by a physician takes into account the underlying cause of incontinence symptoms as well as the type of incontinence a person experiences. The good news is that even if your symptoms are a result of OAB, there are treatment options available to help reduce your symptoms and stop bladder leakages. Keep reading to learn about them.
How to Stop Bladder Leakages and Control Incontinence
As mentioned above, if your bladder leakages are caused by a serious medical condition such as an infection or an enlarged prostate, you will need to treat the underlying condition. Depending on the condition, this may be enough to resolve your incontinence symptoms as well. Still, many patients need treatment for bladder leakages in addition to treatment for the underlying condition.
In other circumstances, long-term management of symptoms may be the only option. In such cases, doctors typically start by recommending lifestyle interventions before prescribing medication or recommending advanced therapies, such as implants.
How to Stop Bladder Leakages with Lifestyle Changes
First-line treatments for chronic urinary incontinence consist of behavioral interventions such as changing one’s diet and fluid intake, pelvic floor exercises, and more:
- Bladder Diary
Keeping a bladder diary consists of carefully tracking your incontinence symptoms, including the frequency and severity of urinations and urges, frequency of leakages, the type, amount, and time of fluids consumed, and more. This information acts as both an important diagnostic tool and basis for treatment.
- Bladder Training
Bladder training is the practice of retraining the bladder to be able to hold urine for longer periods of time, reducing both urgency and leakages. Bladder training can include delaying urination, double voiding (urinating, pausing for a few minutes, then urinating again), and scheduling restroom visits, such as once every 2 hours.
- Diet and Fluid Intake
Many people with urinary incontinence treat their symptoms by reducing or eliminating food and drink that irritates the lining of the bladder, particularly close to bedtime (if frequent nighttime urination is a problem). These include:
-Beverages that act as diuretics, such as alcohol, coffee, and tea
-Carbonated drinks, like soda
-Caffeinated drinks and food, including chocolate
-Acidic food and drink, such as citrus and tomatoes
- Kegel and Pelvic Floor Exercises
For stress incontinence, Kegel and/or pelvic floor episodes can strengthen the muscles around the bladder and ultimately improve the bladder’s ability to hold larger amounts of urine for longer periods of time.
- Natural Remedies
Studies have found some evidence that certain herbal remedies, teas, and foods may help reduce OAB symptoms like urinary incontinence. However, it is always important to check with your doctor before taking any herbal remedies or supplements, as they can have side effects or interact with your other medications.
How to Stop Bladder Leakages with Medication
There are prescription medications that can treat urinary incontinence in the event that lifestyle changes do not provide the symptom relief you want. It’s important to carefully discuss your medical history and other medications with your doctor, and you may need to weigh the costs and benefits against any medication side effects.
How to Stop Bladder Leakages with Advanced Therapies
If bladder leakages persist despite lifestyle interventions and medication, all is not lost – there are advanced therapy options. These include Botox injections to the bladder muscle, Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation (PTNS), and sacral nerve stimulation, also known as Sacral Neuromodulation.
Axonics Sacral Neuromodulation
The Axonics System is a Sacral Neuromodulation therapy delivered by a small implant. The implant transmits electrical pulses to the sacral nerves to help restore healthy bladder function for at least 15 years.
Bulkamid: A long lasting treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI)
Bulkamid is a urethral bulking agent that is used to treat SUI. It is a smooth, water-based gel which remains in the body over time without causing reactions in the surrounding tissue. The Bulkamid procedure consists of 3-4 injections into the wall of the urethra (this is the tube that allows urine to leave the bladder). By adding additional volume to the wall of the urethra, it helps prevent urine from leaking out of the bladder during normal daily activities.
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I have been dealing with prostate cancer surgery incontinence for years and tried doing ‘occasional’
Kegel exercises without success; however, recently I have been doing ‘many’ and my incontinence appears to be improving.
I have had urinary incontenance since I had a knee replacement. As part of the procedure I was given a spinal. I t feels like there isn’t a muscle in that area that stops the urine from flowing. I’ve tried many exercises to build up the pelvic floor muscles to no advantage. Could that muscle have been rendered numb due to the spinal? If so, can it be fixed by exercises alone?