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Tips to Help You Manage Urinary Incontinence

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Stuart Bergman, MD

A leaky bladder doesn't have to be a big deal. There are plenty of simple solutions you can try right away to curb your urinary incontinence.

It may be a little bit awkward to discuss with your doctor, but asking for help can often make things better.

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

Living With Incontinence

Don’t wait. With a little effort, you can overcome the challenges of a leaky bladder. It can be as easy as few simple changes in your daily routine. First, you’ll want to know what’s going on. You might have leakage when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. Doctors call that “stress incontinence.” Or you could feel an unexpected, sudden urge to pee. That’s called “urge incontinence.” Though it happens mostly to women, it can happen to anyone at any age. Although people who have it may not talk about it,...

Read the Living With Incontinence article > >

"Doctors can always help someone deal with this," says Alan J. Wein, MD, chief of urology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Treatment generally includes a combination of behavior modification -- self-help things you can do -- and, perhaps, medication."

Things that can improve your condition include the following.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Your pelvic floor muscles help you hold your urine. You may leak if the muscles are weakened from pregnancy, prostate surgery, or being overweight.

You can strengthen your muscles to improve symptoms.

The exercise that works these muscles is called a Kegel. "I tell people to do and hold each for as long as you can," Wein says. "Get into the habit of doing them daily, about every 2 waking hours. They can stop leakage or significantly prevent it." 

Pelvic floor exercises can also help if you have a sudden urge to urinate.

"They're called quick flicks," Wein says. "Relax and contract the muscles very quickly. Many times, that will abort the sensation of urgency."

Less Liquid

Accidents are more likely when your bladder is full. If you drink too much of anything, even water, you might feel an urgent need to go.

Limit caffeine and alcohol, which make you produce more urine. "You'll run to the toilet all day long," says May M. Wakamatsu, MD, a pelvic medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Drink 6 to 8 glasses of liquid per day. Cut back after 4 p.m. if you leak overnight. But do drink throughout the day. If you don't, your body will still make urine, but it will be concentrated and irritate the lining of your bladder. That can cause more of an urge, says Tomas L. Griebling, MD, MPH, of the urology department at the University of Kansas.

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How does incontinence affect your life?