Skip to content
Font Size

At Work With Incontinence

By
WebMD Feature

No matter the type of incontinence you have, on-the-job solutions can help.

“There are some great strategies to help manage it, to interfere as little as possible with work,” says Craig Comiter, MD, professor of urology at Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

OAB and Your Relationships: Talking With Your Partner

If you have an overactive bladder, you’re not alone. About 25% of women over 18 have experienced urine leakage, and one in five adults over age 40 have OAB or problems with urge or frequency. But it may feel like you’re alone, because OAB is something many people are embarrassed to talk about. OAB can be very isolating, say experts. You may find yourself only going out to places you know well, where you’re sure you can get to the bathroom in time. You may forgo things like movies and plays because...

Read the OAB and Your Relationships: Talking With Your Partner article > >

Here are a few to try.

Limit Liquids

Many workers sip coffee or water all day, but the fuller your bladder is, the more likely you are to leak or have an accident. Drink no more than 3 or 4 glasses of liquids at work, and limit caffeine.  It's a diuretic, which makes your body produce more urine.

“You can go a little thirsty during work and drink more at home,” Comiter says.

Plan Bathroom Visits

Empty your bladder to avoid problems.

“Void frequently throughout the day – every time you pass a bathroom, if that's not inconvenient,” says Alan J. Wein, MD, chief of urology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

If possible, gradually add 15 minutes to the amount of time between bathroom visits. This will train you to hold urine for long meetings. But act on any feelings of urgency.

“People should be able to train their bladders so they can wait a minimum of 3 hours,” says May M. Wakamatsu, MD, director of pelvic reconstructive surgery and urogynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Build Muscle

Flex and release your pelvic floor muscles to help prevent leaks. This exercise is called a Kegel.

“There's no limit to how frequently you can do them,” Wein says. “You can do them in a car, a bus, at your desk.”

Some people leak when they stand up. To prevent this, squeeze pelvic floor muscles as you stand. This exercise can also help you reduce a strong urge to urinate. Quickly tense and relax the muscles several times.

“That urge should go away,” Comiter says. “Then you can politely excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.”

Wear Dark Clothes

If you're concerned your co-workers might see wet spots on your clothing, wear dark colors that won't show the contrast between wet and dry fabric. This tactic should be a safety net, not a solution to your problem.

“Black or very dark brown work best,” Wakamatsu says. “Some women wear nothing but dark bottoms just in case, but we do encourage women to come in and see if we can help them with their bladder control.”

Does incontinence limit your social life?