Picture this: you’re in line at the grocery store, having a cup of coffee with the girls, or going for a run when suddenly, the urge happens. Yes, that urge. If you get a sudden and random urge to pee on a variety of different occasions, then you may be dealing with urge incontinence. Now you’re probably wondering, what exactly is urge incontinence and how is it treated? Here’s a quick rundown on what urge incontinence is, as well as how to treat urge incontinence.
First, What Is Urge Incontinence?
Urge incontinence is when you’re minding your own business, and then suddenly, you have to go. And it’s not just one of those, “oh, I need to get to the bathroom in a minute” type deals. It means you better go right now, or you’ll experience an accidental leak. This happens because the bladder thinks it’s in charge and contracts when it shouldn’t. The result is an uncontrolled and unwanted leakage of urine.
What Causes It?
Sometimes urge incontinence is a result of a weakened pelvic floor, and sometimes it’s the bladder sphincter losing control. Other people experience urge incontinence because they have cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder, a neurological condition, or an enlarged prostate. Plus, being a woman and an older adult puts you at risk of developing it too. No matter how it occurs, though, it’s not what we want.
How Can You Treat Urge Incontinence?
So now that we know exactly what it is, how can we treat it? Here are a few of the popular treatments for urge incontinence:
#1 Kegels And The Pelvic Floor
Kegel exercises are the first method of treatment for taming bladder leaks. They’re an almost effortless way of strengthening the muscles needed to hold in urine. All you have to do is contract your pelvic floor for 5 to 10 seconds and then rest for the same amount of time. This is actually the same thing you do when you stop the flow of urine midstream.
The best part of these exercises is they can be done at any time and even during your normal exercise routine. We’re a huge fan of Kegels, as they can do wonders for bladder leaks. And while you’re working on your kegels, Lily Bird has just the thing to help catch any sneaky leaks that happen to slip by with our pads and underwear.
#2 Bladder Retraining
Retraining your bladder is actually pretty simple, but it does require some discipline. When you retrain your bladder, it helps you remind the bladder who’s boss, which is you, of course. You’ll become more aware of when spasms might occur and learn how to retain urine again. Here’s how you can retrain your bladder:
- Set a schedule for pee breaks and try to avoid peeing in between
- As you get better at waiting, increase the time by 15 minutes so pretty soon you are going to pee every 3 to 4 hours
- One possible method is forcing yourself to wait 30 minutes in-between trips to the bathroom, but this may not be possible for everyone.
If you’ve tried other methods and those don’t quite work, your doctor may recommend that you try medications to see if those will improve your symptoms. Some of the most common medications given to people who suffer from urge incontinence include:
- Topical estrogen, which can reinforce tissue in the urethra and vagina and lessen some of the symptoms
- Anticholinergics, which calms overactive bladders and can specifically target symptoms of urge incontinence
#4 Botox Injections
It turns out that Botox isn’t just meant to make you look more young and vibrant. It also can help with bladder leaks too. With this procedure, a medical provider will take a bulking agent like collagen and put it into your bladder muscle. Collagen helps reduce unnecessary muscle contractions and makes your bladder muscles and nerves relax. The result is a less stimulated bladder that won’t be sending out any false signals that you-gotta-go-right-NOW.
You’ll be glad to know that this is an outpatient procedure, so you’ll be able to go home that very same day. In addition, researchers find it to be quite effective for dealing with the pesky symptoms of incontinence. If this form of treatment interests you, reach out to your medical provider. You’d be surprised how simple this treatment is, and did I mention there are minimal side effects?
#5 Electrical Stimulation
This treatment here might shock you with its electrical current, but we promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. This procedure involves putting a tampon-like sensor that’s connected to a handheld device inside the vagina so you can stimulate your pelvic floor muscles. The low-level current helps contract your bladder muscles and stimulate the nerves, which helps with strengthening the pelvic floor. The best thing about this is you can do it in the comforts of your home and it doesn’t require you making multiple treks to your doctor’s office.
Bonus: Sacral Nerve Stimulation To Treat Urge Incontinence
If the above procedure isn’t enough, there is also sacral nerve stimulation. This procedure is admittedly a little more complicated, but the results are promising. Unlike electrical stimulation, this procedure will require surgery because a medical professional will add a pacemaker-like device directly to your sacral nerves. You’ll be able to send mild zaps to your sacral nerves that’ll tell the bladder, “don’t go just yet”, so you can get better control of your bladder activity.
You should also know that you get 2 weeks to test this thing out and see if you like it. If you do like it after that 2 week trial period, your doctor will place a more permanent device, known as the Interstim, to the area.
Treat Urge Incontinence & Say Goodbye
Urge incontinence can definitely interrupt your routine, but it doesn’t have to continue to do so. The stress of having the sudden urge to pee at the most random and sometimes inappropriate times could be a thing of the past. Today, there are a variety of treatments that help reduce symptoms so you can get back to living a normal life.
Whether you’re looking for a treatment that you can work on yourself or a procedure with more long-lasting results, there is a treatment for you. Your bladder will thank you, and you will be able to get into your routine without the additional bathroom breaks.
Is an unruly bladder one of the things that’s stopping you from living your best life? Lily Bird can help. Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear delivered right to your door. Start your trial today.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH