Solutions for Bladder Control

Two senior women drinking beverages at a table

What causes it?

Urinary incontinence (UI) is loss of bladder control that results in leakage of urine. It occurs most often during coughing, sneezing, lifting, or exercising. There are many causes of UI, including weak or overactive bladder muscles, urinary tract infections, vaginal infection or irritation, constipation, and blockage from an enlarged prostate in men. Some medicines can cause bladder control problems that last a short time.

Talk to your doctor

The first step in treating incontinence is to see your doctor. Your doctor will treat your concerns seriously and try to ease any discomfort you have about discussing sensitive topics. To determine the cause, your doctor may ask about medicines you take or if you were recently sick or had surgery. Your doctor may also ask for urine and blood tests, and tests that measure how well you empty your bladder.

Your Care Management team is also available to help — at no cost to you as a Tufts Health Plan member. If you have concerns about bladder control, you can work with the team to navigate your options.

There are different types of incontinence

There are different types of urinary incontinence:

Stress Incontinence: This happens when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder, for example, during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects.

Urge Incontinence: This happens when people have a sudden need to urinate and aren’t able to hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time.

Overflow Incontinence: This happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra.

Functional Incontinence: This happens in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.

It's treatable

Today, there are more treatments for urinary incontinence than ever before. Under a doctor’s care, incontinence can be treated and often cured. Even if treatment is not fully successful, careful management can help you feel more relaxed and confident.

Common bladder control solutions include:

  • Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises)—strengthens muscles you use to stop urinating.
  • Timed voiding—urinating on a set schedule, for example, every hour.
  • Lifestyle changes—such as losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, drinking less caffeine, preventing constipation, and not lifting heavy objects.

Learn more from our Health Library:

Resources & Tools

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