Incontinence: A Woman's Little Secret
If you think urinary incontinence only affects older women, think again. Bladder control issues affect younger, active women, too -- are you one of them?
Incontinence Treatments continued...
"They are a means to strengthen muscles in the pelvis that control
urination. The patient puts the egg in her vagina, and works to hold it
there without dropping it," he says. "As her pelvic muscles strengthen, she
uses a heavier weight to increase that strength."
Bladder training: By lengthening the time between trips to
the bathroom, bladder training can help women with urge incontinence.
You start by urinating frequently -- every 30 minutes or so -- and
increasing the time gradually until you're going every three to four hours.
Relaxation exercises -- breathing slowly and deeply when the urge strikes --
may also help. Once the urge passes, wait five minutes and go to the bathroom
even if you don't feel like you need to anymore. Slowly increase the amount of
Electrical stimulation: This can be used to strengthen
muscles with stress incontinence or calm overactive muscles with urge
A small probe inserted in the vagina gives quick doses of electrical
stimulation to the vaginal wall, Brubaker explains. "It has the same effect as
Kegel exercises... and it works
as well as medication but without side effects."
Biofeedback: This involves becoming attuned to your body's
functioning, to gain control over muscles to suppress urges.
Biofeedback typically involves wearing sensors to track certain bodily
functions such as muscle tension, then learning how to control those functions.
It can be very effective in controlling bladder muscles, says Brubaker.
Hormone Creams: Estrogen creams are intended to
restore the tissue of the vagina and urethra to their normal thickness, says
Galloway - but they don't really help incontinence.
"Hormone creams are more effective with vaginal dryness than they are
with resolving incontinence," he tells WebMD. "Some [studies] demonstrate
significant improvements using hormone creams and others have not shown a
Bladder Training With Scheduled Toilet Trips: With this
technique the clock dictates your toilet visits, not your bladder. Using this
method you take routine, planned bathroom trips, usually every two to four
Implants: When collagen or other materials are injected
into tissues around the urethra, it provides pressure that helps prevent
"These injectables have significantly lower side effects and complications
compared to medications," Brubaker explains. "The injection needs to be
repeated every 12 to 18 months. Some insurance covers injectables, depending on
the material used."
Amping Up Your Treatment: Medications and Surgery
When more conservative measures have failed, medications - then surgery -
are the alternatives, says Galloway.
Medications: No drug helps with stress incontinence, but a
class called anticholinergics does help with urge incontinence.
These drugs include Detrol, Oxytrol, Ditropan, and Sanctura -- all with similar effectiveness and similar
side effects, like dry mouth and constipation, says
Medications like Enablexand
Vesicare are more effective in
controlling the bladder, but don't cause constipation, he adds.