Below, we take a look at behavioural therapy and medication, to see how they can help when it comes to living with incontinence.
While you’ll be aware of the multitude of incontinence products available, for some individuals, medication may be a solution. The most commonly used medication to treat incontinence includes:
- Anticholinergics – most helpful for those that suffer from urge incontinence, this medication is used to calm the bladder.
- Mirabegron – again, these are used to help treat urge incontinence. Working to relax the bladder muscles, this can increase the amount of urine the bladder can hold. Alongside this, the medication can increase the amount you can urinate at one time, helping to fully empty your bladder.
- Alpha-blockers – used for men living with incontinence, these work to relax the bladder neck muscle and muscle fibres within the prostate. By doing this, emptying the bladder should be made easier.
- Topical oestrogen – used for women, this can come in the form of a vaginal cream, ring or patch. Applied in a low dose this can rejuvenate the urethra and vaginal areas. However, systemic oestrogen (such as the pill) isn’t recommend as it could make your incontinence worse.
Even though medication can help, it won’t work for everyone, while others may not want to take regular pills. In this instance, there are several behavioural therapies, also known as self-management techniques, where the adoption of new behaviours and skills can help you to better manage your incontinence.
Pelvic floor training
The most common self-management technique when it comes to incontinence is working to strengthen your pelvic floor. This is mostly done through Kegel exercises, which is where you squeeze and contract your pelvic floor muscles. You can do these anywhere, as no one will know, which means this is an exercise you’ll be able to do frequently. These exercises aim to help control the flow of urine for those that live with stress or urge incontinence.
This usually works best for those living with urge incontinence or can be combined with pelvic floor training for those that have mixed incontinence.
When you live with urge incontinence, you’ll often need to go to the toilet suddenly without warning. Bladder training involves learning techniques to help lengthen the time between the feeling where you need to urinate and passing urine.
Meanwhile, urgency suppression, another form of bladder training, is where you use a mixture of Kegel exercises, mental distractions and deep breathing.
A bit like bladder training, this is where you put yourself on a schedule of when to urinate. This way, when you get that sudden urge, you work to suppress the feeling, avoiding going to the toilet until your next pre-determined toilet break. You can start training by delaying by five-minutes before working up to a three to four-hour frequency. This way you’ll be more in control of the situation, going to the toilet by time, not urge.
Whether you opt for behavioural therapy or medication is entirely up to you, you may even opt to try both. However, other actions can be taken to help you take better control of your incontinence.
Most of these are lifestyle choices, with many GPs recommending:
- Reducing your caffeine intake as this can be an irritant, increasing the amount you urinate.
- Not altering your daily intake of fluids, because drinking too much or too little can negatively affect your incontinence.
- Losing weight, as being overweight or obese can have an impact on incontinence.
It’s important to remember that because everyone lives with different types of incontinence, which all come in varying levels, the above won’t work for everyone. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your GP about the options available to you.
One thing everyone with incontinence will need, whether they’re using behavioural therapies or medication is incontinence products. If you’d like to speak to a member of our team about what we have on offer, or if you’d like some recommendations, please get in touch.
You can do this by calling us on 01204 895410 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday – Friday and one of our members of staff will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, you can use the enquiry form here, and someone will get back to you within 24-hours.