incontinence medication

Popping Pills: Incontinence Medication For Leaks

Bladder leaks can be a tough pill to swallow. They’re stressful, exhausting, and can be downright embarrassing. If you worry constnatly about your next bathroom break, it’s hard to enjoy life’s moments. Missing out on what you used to enjoy doing can be a real buzzkill.

The good news is that there are plenty of options for women with leaks and overactive bladders. We’ve already talked about all sorts of solutions that don’t involve popping pills. Those include things like bladder training and Kegels to reducing bladder irritants and using an absorbent product. But for some ladies, incontinence medication can help too. If you’re ready to try incontinence medication, here are the most common options — and their side effects.

Incontinence Medication for Urge UI & Overactive Bladder

Urge incontinence and overactive bladder (OAB) makes you feel like you need to go to the bathroom, really really badly. Unlike OAB, urge incontinence causes leaks when you feel the need to go. But they both happen because of faulty coordination between your brain and your bladder. That lack of coordination causes bladder spasms, which makes you need to pee before your bladder is truly full. If leaks and the urge to go are getting in the way of normal day-to-day, you may want to consider medication. A word of warning, though: you might have trouble pronouncing half of them.

Incontinence Medication To Cease Random Spasms: Anticholinergics

Anticholinergics are the most common form of incontinence medication, but what exactly do they do? Put simply, anticholinergics block a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine, which controls some of the involuntary muscle movements (i.e. spasms) that can cause OAB and urge incontinence. Anticholinergics also treat COPD, gastrointestinal disorders, and symptoms of Parkinson’s. Now, get ready for a mouthful of terms you’ve probably never heard of and can’t pronounce. Some of the more popular anticholinergics used for leaks include:

  • oxybutynin (Ditropan XL),
  • tolterodine (Detrol),
  • solifenacin (Vesicare),
  • darifenacin (Enablex),
  • fesoterodine (Toviaz), and
  • trospium (Sanctura).

In general, this kind of incontinence medication puts a stop to leaks caused by nerves and muscles not being coordinated. Side Effects of anticholinergics include dry mouth, blurry vision, dizziness, and confusion. Women in their golden years shouldn’t take anticholinergics because of their impact on memory. And no one should take them for very long for the same reason.

Incontinence Medication To Relax Yourself and Let it Flow: Mirabegron (Myrbetriq)

Woosah vibes is what Mirabegron provides for ladies dealing with OAB and urge incontinence. Mirabegron works by relaxing the bladder which prevents the spasms that make you think you need to go. This increases the amount of urine the bladder can hold. Unlike anticholinergics, Mirabegron doesn’t impact memory, which is a win for those of us that aren’t too fond of brain fog and forgetfulness. Side Effects of Mirabegron include nausea, dizziness, headache, constipation, diarrhea, and a rise in blood pressure. Its effects on the cardiovascular system long-term are unknown, so carefully consider your options if you struggle with heart or cardiovascular disease.

Incontinence Medication To Calm the Mind and the Bladder: Imipramine (Tofranil) and Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

What do anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications have to do with leaks? Turns out, a whole lot. Antidepressants like Imipramine and Duloxetine are commonly used to treat the occasional spritz as well. In addition to calming the mind, this type of incontinence medication also help relax the urethra so you can empty the whole thing in one bathroom trip. Why does that matter? Tight urethral muscles tied with bathroom stress can aggravate leaks. These medications can help significantly. Women struggling with both incontinence and depression may find relief from both illnesses with Imipramine or Duloxetine.

Side Effects of Imipramine include dry mouth, blurry vision, and constipation. Who knew you might have to swap leaks for cotton mouth? On a more serious note, two rare but serious side effects linked to Imipramine include irregular heartbeat and a drop in blood pressure. Older women shouldn’t use Imipramine for these reasons in particular.

Side Effects of Duloxetine include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, constipation, and trouble sleeping. If you suffer from liver complications or disease, you should not take Duloxetine. Because antidepressants can interfere with other medications, it’s important to speak with a doctor about other medications you take before starting either of these. In fact, that’s a good tip with any new medication!

An Interesting Link Between Mental Health and Leaks

Speaking of anxiety, depression and leaks, there’s actually some research out there that shows a correlation. Ever been so scared you thought you’d pee yourself? This common phrase actually has some scientific backing as excess adrenaline triggers the need to pee. A lot of patients that struggle with bladder leaks have depression and/or anxiety. On the flip side, people dealing with anxiety and/or depression often develop leaks.

Feeling Like New: Topical Estrogen

If incontinence medication isn’t offering the relief you were hoping for, consider topical estrogen. Especially if your leaks have cropped up during perimenopause or menopause, as your body is starting to produce less estrogen. A low-dose topical estrogen cream, patch, or ring may help some women find relief from everyday leaks. Topical estrogen may rejuvenate tissue and muscle in the vagina and urethra, helping your lower half feel young again. So, this medication option offers more benefits than just relief from leaks. Help in the bedroom is always appreciated!

And keep in mind that oral estrogen won’t work for urinary incontinence and can even make it worse. Stick with the topical stuff.

What About Incontinence Medication for Stress Incontinence?

The treatments mentioned above help many women, but they’re only used to treat urge incontinence and overactive bladder. Us older gals often struggle with stress incontinence as well. If you struggle with leaks almost every time you sneeze or laugh, that’s stress incontinence. And you’re not alone.

What Can You Do?

To date, there is no proven medication-based treatment for stress incontinence. But, there are a few things you can do to help keep leaks from ruining your day. These include whipping your pelvic floor muscles back into shape with Kegel exercises. These simple exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor which can hold back leaks every time you cough or sneeze.

Pads and disposable underwear made for leaks can be a great option, too. Here at Lily Bird we’ve got you covered with bladder leak products so you don’t have to worry about those little leaks anymore.

Say Goodbye To Leaks, Say Hello to Relief

Leaks can get in the way of your daily routine and keep you from having fun. But, incontinence medication can help you manage your symptoms. Talk to your doctor about any new medication plan before you start popping pills. Bladder leaks doesn’t have to keep you locked in the bathroom all day. You’ve got places to go and things to do!

Want some extra protection beyond the incontinence medication? Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas, delivered right to your door. Start your trial today.

By Jessica Thomas, MPH