Treatment for temporary incontinence can be rapid, simple and effective. If urinary tract infections are the cause, they can be treated with antibiotics. Any related incontinence will often clear up in a short time. Medications that cause incontinence can be discontinued or changed to halt episodes.
Chronic incontinence may require a variety of treatments, depending on the cause. Treatment options are listed below in the order in which they are usually tried, from least-to-most invasive:
- Behavioral techniques, which include pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises and bladder training, are sometimes all a person needs for achieving continence. A number of devices can also be used to strengthen muscles and prevent urine leakage. Bladder training is useful for urge incontinence With the exception of functional incontinence, most cases of incontinence will almost always improve with behavioral techniques. There are a variety of methods, but the focus is usually on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles or retraining the bladder. Studies indicate that such exercises are very effective.
- Medications are tried next. Often, these involve anticholinergics. Estrogen therapy (particularly vaginal estrogen cream) has been shown effective in treating some forms of urinary incontinence.
- Pessaries may also improve incontinence symptoms is some patients, negating the need for surgical repair.
- Surgery is the last resort. There are many effective procedures available for both stress incontinence and for urge urinary incontinence that do not respond to more conservative measures.