Stress incontinence happens when you leak urine in between trips to the bathroom. These leaks usually happen when sneezing, coughing, laughing, or even sexual intercourse, all of which can cause stress to your lower urinary tract—hence “stress” incontinence.
While some women live with stress incontinence, there are treatments available. Stress incontinence isn’t something that happens with normal aging. Some of the treatments for your incontinence do not even require drugs or surgery!
Here are three treatment options for stress incontinence in women.
Kegel exercises are also considered pelvic floor muscle training, which are exercises pioneered by Doctor Arnold Kegel to be effective in the treatment of incontinence. The muscles that control your urine flow (starting and stopping) can weaken with age, lack of exercise, or poor nutrition. Luckily for you, these muscles can be strengthened again! Talk with your urologist about what exercises you can do. Many of them are simple and can be done anywhere at any time of day.
A common Kegel exercise for both women and men is to practice starting and stopping the flow of urine. This will help you locate the muscles you need to strengthen in order to help your incontinence. Another practice to consider is using vaginal cones. Vaginal cones are weighted devices that are inserted into the vagina. The different weights will challenge your muscles to hold the cone in, therefore strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. You and your urologist can discuss which exercises would most benefit you for your stress incontinence.
Behavioral training is an excellent tool to help you treat and maybe even cure stress incontinence. During this training, you’ll learn about your lower urinary tract and how everything works. You’ll also be encouraged to keep a diary or log, which could involve tracking how much fluid you drink and how much you urinate. This information will help you and your urologist determine what’s affecting your stress incontinence.
One of the things that could be affecting your stress incontinence is your diet. Fluids such as alcohol, coffee, and sugary drinks like soda can worsen stress incontinence. Keeping track of what you drink and when can be helpful. Foods such as processed foods that are high in sugar can also be contributing to your stress incontinence. Talk with your urologist about what modifications you can do to help.
Medication or Surgery
If you find that Kegels or behavioral modification doesn’t help, you may consider different medications or surgery to help you. You and your urologist can discuss which medications or surgical procedures would work best for your stress incontinence if needed.
Surgery options include injections, such as a collagen injection for your urethra, a vaginal sling (which supports the urethra), or anterior vaginal repair or retropubic suspension, which could be needed if your bladder or urethra are not where they should be. You may choose to use medication or surgery in combination with the other treatments available.
Don’t avoid help for your stress incontinence because you think it’s normal or you’re embarrassed. Urologists are specifically trained to help treat your stress incontinence and can get you feeling normal again. Make an appointment with your urologist today to discuss which treatment for stress incontinence will be the best for you!