Mature woman standing with group
1 / 12

Take Charge

Don't let fear of bladder accidents keep you from an active life filled with work, friends, and family. Incontinence isn't a normal part of aging, or something you just have to live with. There are plenty of things you can do. The sooner you call your doctor, the faster you can get treated.

 

Swipe to advance
Woman and doctor having discussion
2 / 12

First Steps

It's not easy to talk about incontinence. That's why women wait, on average, 6 years before they get help. Take the first step and call your doctor. He might refer you to a specialist who treats urinary conditions. At your first visit, ask if your diet, health problems, or medicine could be causing the problem.

Swipe to advance
Pregnant woman holding water
3 / 12

What Type of Incontinence Is It?

Before your doctor can treat it, he needs to know what kind it is. If you release urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze, that's likely stress incontinence. If you have a sudden need to go before leakage happens, that's probably urge incontinence. Some people have a combination of the two.

Swipe to advance
Woman gathering health information
4 / 12

Your Doctor Visit: What to Expect

He'll examine you and ask about your health, symptoms, medicines you take, and the type of accidents you have. He might suggest you keep a diary to record every time you go to the bathroom or have wetness.

Swipe to advance
radiologist
5 / 12

Tests to Diagnose Incontinence

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and rule out any other medical conditions. He may order tests to check for infections or other problems, as well as a bladder stress test.

Swipe to advance
Woman exercising kegels
6 / 12

Kegel Exercises

Squeezing muscles you already use several times a day can help prevent leaks. Kegel exercises work the ones in your pelvis that you use to start and stop the flow of pee. 

To do a Kegel, squeeze and hold for about 10 seconds. Then release. Do about 10 sets three to five times a day. It may take up to 3 months before you notice a change.

Swipe to advance
Woman timing bathroom breaks
7 / 12

Retrain Your Bladder

Want more control? Schedule your bathroom visits at regular intervals -- for instance, every 2 hours. If you have to go before the time is up, use Kegels or relaxation techniques to hold it in until the urge passes. After a while, you'll train yourself to go less often, with longer and longer periods between restroom breaks.

Swipe to advance
Woman taking medication
8 / 12

Medicine

Drugs can treat urges related to overactive bladder. Some control its contractions, others keep it relaxed. Side effects may include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Swipe to advance
Pessary illustration
9 / 12

Other Treatments

Women can insert a pessary device into the vagina that helps control leakage.

Another option: Doctors can inject collagen and other bulking substances to thicken tissues around the bladder neck and narrow the opening.

You could also consider getting sling or suspension surgery, which lifts the urethra and bladder neck back into place. For urge incontinence, painless nerve stimulation can stop your body from telling you your bladder is full.

Swipe to advance
Woman shopping online
10 / 12

Pick Your Protection

You can buy products designed for bladder protection in stores and online. You'll find disposable and reusable versions. Some are specially fitted for men or women.

For light to moderate wetness, a liner or pad that attaches to your underwear may be all you need. Fitted briefs or protective underwear can handle more liquid.

Swipe to advance
Woman setting golf tee
11 / 12

Get Back Out Into the World

A few routine changes can help prevent leaks and get you back to your favorite activities. Don't stop drinking fluids -- you'll get dehydrated. Limit each drink to 6 to 8 ounces, and don't have them within 2 to 4 hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which increase the urge to go. If you're overweight, drop a few pounds to ease pressure on your bladder. And don't smoke. It's bad for your bladder, too.

Swipe to advance
Mature man drinking water from bottle
12 / 12

Treatment for Men

Men can become incontinent after an illness or injury, or when an enlarged prostate gland  blocks the regular flow of urine from the bladder. Like women, men can often get relief with bladder retraining, lifestyle changes, and Kegels.

Medications can help relax or shrink the prostate if that's the problem. Your doctor may also suggest surgery, like artificial sphincters or male slings, which support the urethra and keep it closed when necessary.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/01/2015 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 01, 2015

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

(1)    Image Source
(2)    LWA / Photographer's Choice
(3)    Brand New Images / Stone
(4)    Paul Simcock / Brand X Pictures
(5)    Thinkstock
(6)    Helena Inkeri / Gorilla Creative Images
(7)    AAGAMIA / Iconica
(8)    B2M Productions
(9)  WebMD
(10)  Superstudio / Taxi
(11)  Alistair Berg / Digital Vision
(12)  Jetta Productions / Iconica

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Kegel Exercises for your pelvic muscles," "Vaginal Pessary," "Urinary Incontinence."
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Surgery for Stress Urinary Incontinence."
Cleveland Clinic: "Overactive Bladder."
Harvard Medical School: "Taming Incontinence."
National Association for Continence: "Absorbent Products," "Biofeedback," "Bladder Retraining," "Facts and Statistics."
National Center of Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health: "Comparing Drugs for Overactive Bladder Syndrome."
National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Urinary Incontinence in Women,"  "Urinary Incontinence in Men."
Simon Foundation for Continence: "About Incontinence - Treatment/Management Options - Pessary," "About Incontinence - Treatment/Management Options - Bulking Agents."
UCSF Medical Center: "Urge Incontinence in Women Treatment."
University of California at San Francisco Women's Continence Center: "Bladder Training."
University of Chicago Medical Center, Section of Urology: "Male Incontinence."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Frequently Asked Questions."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 01, 2015

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE VETERINARY ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your pet’s health. Never ignore professional veterinary advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think your pet may have a veterinary emergency, immediately call your veterinarian.