Urinary Incontinence: Treatment Options

A wide variety of nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for all types of urinary incontinence. 

Stress incontinence can be effectively treated with pelvic floor exercises, devices that block the loss of urine, or surgery. Urge incontinence is commonly treated with medications, biofeedback, or electrical stimulation to the nerves that control the bladder. 

One new form of nerve stimulation treatment, called neuromodulation, involves placing an electrical stimulator (similar to a pacemaker) under the skin. 

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that anyone can use to improve their health. By identifying signals from your body and using this information to control body functions, you can modify problems such as migraine headaches, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and bladder control problems. 

Biofeedback can be used alone, with medications, or with other treatments. There are no side effects. If an operation is necessary, biofeedback may also be prescribed before and after surgery to help maintain the surgical results. 

Biofeedback can be a valuable tool for patients who are willing and able to assume more responsibility for and control of their bodies.

Pelvic Floor Stimulation

Nerves trigger muscles to contract, and repeated contractions over several weeks can build both muscle strength and endurance. Using this principle, pelvic floor stimulation delivers a weak electrical current to the nerves, causing them to contract and strengthen the muscles that control the release of urine. 

Pelvic floor stimulation has been used effectively to improve urinary incontinence for more than 25 years. 

Physicians have more recently started using this treatment for chronic bladder pain, frequent or uncomfortable urination, and other disorders that cause pain in the pelvic area.

Pelvic floor stimulation may be more successful when combined with lifestyle changes including weight loss, decreased caffeine intake, regular bowel movements, smoking cessation, and drinking six to eight glasses of water a day. Kegel exercises (pelvic floor muscle exercises), hormone replacement therapy or other medications, and biofeedback may also be added to increase the effectiveness of pelvic floor stimulation.