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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Functional Incontinence

Diagnosis and Treatment of Functional Incontinence continued...

Often, simple behavioral treatments that help other forms of incontinence can be helpful in reducing accidents caused by functional incontinence. These treatments include:

Bladder training: This technique involves scheduling the amount of time between bathroom trips. You'll initially start by going every two hours. If you feel the need to go between trips, you should stand or sit still, contract the pelvic muscles, and concentrate on making the urge to urinate go away. Once the urge is under control, you can go to the bathroom and urinate. After you have stayed dry for two days, you should slowly increase intervals until you are able to go three to four hours without using the bathroom.

Pelvic muscle exercises: Pelvic muscle exercises, also called Kegel exercises, strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and urethra to prevent leakage. To do Kegel exercises you should focus on isolating your pelvic muscles, so that contractions are in these muscles. To learn how to do Kegel exercises, go to the bathroom and urinate. Halfway through, try to stop the stream of urine. This will help you identify the muscles you need to contract. Once you identify the muscles, do not practice while urinating. Do the exercises for about five minutes at a time as you go about your day. After a few weeks to a month you should start to notice some improvement. Practicing Kegel exercises may be helpful in preventing accidents as you try to get to the bathroom.

In addition to doing specific exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, walking can be helpful, because it improves your sense that the bladder is filling. This may enable you to recognize the need to urinate and head toward the bathroom before it's too late.

Scheduled, timed, or prompted voiding: This involves setting a schedule for bathroom trips. If you make regular trips to the bathroom, you may be less likely to have to go in a hurry. In nursing homes, scheduled or prompted voiding can be helpful for dementia patients, who may not recognize when they need to use the bathroom. Bathroom trips can be planned for times when the patient's bladder is likely to be full.

Although these methods require motivation and effort, for many people with functional incontinence, they can make a difference between having accidents and staying dry.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 23, 2012

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