Your doctor may start the treatment of your stress urinary incontinence with lifestyle modifications and pelvic floor muscle exercises. They may ask you to drink less water, caffeine, or alcohol to reduce the likelihood of having symptoms as these liquids will cause your body to produce more urine. Weight-loss may also be considered as it is a risk factor for urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscle training or Kegel exercises is a special set of exercises your doctor may instruct you to perform that target and strengthen your pelvic muscles. These exercises are highly effective in treating stress urinary incontinence by improving muscle tone in the muscles supporting the bladder and the muscles holding back urine. The exercise consists of 12-30 muscle contractions (10 seconds for each contraction), 3 to 5 times per day. It may take 6-8 weeks for results.
Your doctor may elect to use other forms of physical therapy if Kegel exercises are ineffective. This may involve the use of weighed vaginal cones to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles or may involve bladder training which is achieved by urinating at fixed intervals. Alternatively, pessaries may be used to support the pelvic floor muscles and compress the urethra to create more resistance against urine leaks. These can come in a variety of shapes but must be fitted individually.
If necessary, pads or other protective garments may be used to be used to absorb urine leaks. But only pads specifically designed for incontinence should be used as menstrual pads are not absorbent enough.
Other options for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence may be explored if Kegel exercises, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes are not enough. Your doctor may consider surgery if your symptoms do not improve or if they believe that it will be more effective for you than the other treatment options.
Vaginal estrogen may be used for post-menopausal women as treatment if there are both symptoms of mixed urinary incontinence and symptoms of vaginal atrophy. However, currently there are no drugs approved by Health Canada for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence alone.
Helpful tips for managing incontinence:
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption as these cause your body to produce more urine.
- Reduce fluid intake to appropriate levels to help reduce your symptoms. 2.2L (9 cups) of fluid for women and 3L (12 cups) of fluid for men is recommended per day and this amount includes the water in food and beverages.
- Weight loss can help reduce symptoms by lowering the pressure on bladder.
- Don't be embarrassed to discuss the issue with your doctor – many people experience symptoms of stress urinary incontinence.
- Check with your doctor before using absorbent pads as it can delay appropriate treatment.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Stress-Urinary-Incontinence