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Urinary incontinence can cause embarrassment and disruption to your everyday life. Medications and therapies can help to treat it.

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Answer a few questions about your health so we can get to know you better.
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We’ll check in with you regularly to see how your treatment is going.
This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.
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    Urinary Incontinence: Here's what we've got.
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    Solifenacin

    A daily tablet that relieves urgency and incontinence.

    • Starting from £55.00

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    Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.

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    What is urinary incontinence?

    Urinary incontinence is when you lose control of your bladder. It can cause you to accidentally release a small amount of urine or to completely empty your bladder. There are several different types of it, and both men and women can develop urinary continence for a variety of reasons.

    You may feel a bit embarrassed about it, but it’s pretty common, and a clinician can usually help you to address it. If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence for the first time, a clinician will need to evaluate you to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition.

    Who gets urinary incontinence?

    Women are about twice as likely to suffer from urinary incontinence as men. Your risk of developing it increases with age, and a family history of urinary incontinence also increases your risk.

    Women are more likely to develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy. A growing fetus puts pressure on the bladder, making it harder for pregnant women to control it. Women who are postpartum also have higher rates of urinary incontinence because giving birth can damage or weaken the muscles involved in urinating.

    Obesity can increase your risk of urinary incontinence too. The additional weight carried by obese people may stress their bladder, leading to a loss of control over the urinary sphincter. There are also other conditions that may cause it, including neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

    How common is urinary incontinence?

    In population-based research, the number of people who experience urinary incontinence ranges from just under 10% to 36%, and more than twice the amount of older women have it than older men. Despite the large number of people who experience urine leakage, it’s not often discussed because of embarrassment. It’s a sensitive subject, but many people would benefit from discussing it with a clinician. Once you’ve spoken to a clinician about it, they can explore treatment options with you to either reduce the number of times you experience urinary incontinence or help it to stop altogether.

    What types of incontinence are there?

    There are five different types of urinary incontinence: stress, urge, overflow, functional and mixed incontinence. The two most common types are stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence.

    Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) happens when there’s pressure on your bladder from the muscles around it. This pressure is stronger than your bladder control muscles, so urine leaks through your urinary sphincter.

    Urge urinary incontinence (UUI) happens when you get a sudden urge to urinate that you can’t control. Your bladder responds by releasing itself involuntarily. There are usually underlying conditions that cause this sort of incontinence, but they’re mostly minor.

    Functional urinary incontinence happens when you experience a physical or mental issue that prevents you from reaching the bathroom before your bladder relieves itself. A physical condition that makes it hard for you to remove your clothes or a mental condition that stops you from responding to your urge to urinate appropriately indicates functional incontinence.

    Overflow urinary incontinence is characterised by small amounts of urine that escape throughout the day. If you don’t fully empty your bladder when you go to the bathroom, it can lead to overflow incontinence.

    Mixed urinary incontinence is when your urinary incontinence symptoms mirror more than one kind of urinary incontinence. You may experience a combination of stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence symptoms.

    Stress incontinence

    Stress incontinence is the result of pressure on your bladder from the muscles around it. Many pregnant women experience stress incontinence because of the weight of the growing fetus and from the kicks and jabs as it moves around in the uterus. Other people may leak urine when they have abdominal spasms that result from laughing, coughing, or sneezing.

    Urge incontinence

    Urge incontinence is different from stress incontinence. People who have this type of urinary incontinence get sudden, strong urges to urinate. The urge is so strong that they can’t make it to the bathroom before their bladder releases urine. Drinking caffeine or alcohol can cause urge incontinence, but there may also be an underlying condition that’s causing it.

    Mixed incontinence

    People who show signs of more than one type of urinary incontinence are diagnosed with mixed incontinence. If you suffer from two or more types of urinary incontinence, talk to our clinician to figure out why you have mixed incontinence and how to treat it.

    Medically reviewed by
    Dr Daniel Atkinson
    GP Clinical Lead
    on August 02, 2022.
    Meet Daniel
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    This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

    How we source info.

    When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

    What causes urinary incontinence?

    No matter which type of urinary incontinence you have, it’s often a result of weakening in the muscles of the bladder. Weakening can occur as you age, but it can also be an outcome from pregnancy, birth, menopause, or obesity.

    What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

    The symptoms of urinary incontinence are fairly consistent between people. They may include any of the following:

    • urging leakage throughout the day from lifting things, bending, coughing, and/or exercising
    • a strong urge to urinate that comes on suddenly
    • leaking urine unexpectedly
    • not making it to the bathroom on time
    • bed wetting

    Can urinary incontinence lead to other problems?

    Urinary incontinence can be a sign of a more serious condition on rare occasions. Usually, it’s a temporary condition that affects your everyday life until it’s resolved, but it isn’t necessarily an indication of a severe or life-threatening condition.

    Reference Popover #ref2

    What medications are there for urinary incontinence?

    The first line of treatment for urinary incontinence is usually pelvic floor exercises or a change in lifestyle. More aggressive treatment can result in surgery, which is often more invasive than you may prefer. If exercises aren’t improving symptoms and you aren’t ready to consider surgery, there are a few medications that may be able to help.

    Duloxetine can help improve the muscle tone of your urethra. It’s an antidepressant, but its muscle tone benefits may provide more control over urinary output.

    Antimuscarinic medications prevent acetylcholine from activating muscarinic receptors. This gives people more control over their bladder because it slows the movement of smooth muscles, like those involved in urination, while also toning the urinary sphincter. There are several antimuscarinics available including atropine, oxybutynin, scopolamine and more.

    Mirabegron is an antimuscarinic drug that is often used to treat urge incontinence. It allows your bladder to hold more urine, so you don’t have to urinate as frequently or as urgently.

    If you’re unable to use any of the above medications, or they don’t work for you, then your clinician may recommend a surgical procedure to treat your incontinence. This typically involves injecting botox into your bladder muscle, which will cause it to relax. This will both increase the amount of urine that your bladder can hold and reduce your episodes of incontinence.

    Is there a ‘best’ treatment for urinary incontinence?

    The ideal treatment for urinary incontinence is lifestyle changes and pelvic floor exercises. These are the least invasive treatment options and they pose no risk of side effects.

    If these options aren’t working for you, you might be prescribed medications or devices like pessaries.

    Typically, surgery is only recommended if other options haven’t worked or are unsuitable.

    Does urinary incontinence always need treatment?

    Urinary incontinence medication isn’t always necessary. Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in urinary control may eliminate the need for any other treatment options.

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    FAQ: Urinary incontinence

    Have something specific you want to know? Search our info below, or ask our experts a question if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

    Why should I buy urinary incontinence treatment online with Treated?

    Answer:
    Urinary incontinence can be a sensitive subject. But we’re here to support you with it, and find the right treatment just for you. Once you’ve chosen your medication, we’ll stay in touch with you to make sure that your treatment is working the way it should. And if it isn’t, our clinicians can talk you through other treatment options. 

    They’re also on hand to help you at any point. So if you’ve got any questions, you just need to sign in to your account and send them a message.

    Does urinary incontinence treatment always work?

    Answer:
    Treatment for urinary incontinence isn’t always successful. Using a medication alongside pelvic floor exercises may help to improve your symptoms more than just taking medication on its own. If you find that there’s no improvement in your condition with medication and lifestyle changes, you may need to consider surgery.

    Can urinary incontinence treatment cause side effects?

    Answer:
    Just like any other treatment, there are risks and side effects for urinary incontinence treatment options. Our clinician will consider your medical history to help decide if the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks or not.

    Are there tests for urinary incontinence?

    Answer:
    A clinician can order a series of tests to rule out or confirm certain conditions that may be triggering your urinary incontinence. These include:

    • a dipstick test - to check your urine for bacteria, blood, or protein

    • a residual urine test - to measure the urine left in your bladder after you pee

    • a cystoscopy - using a camera to see if there are any structural abnormalities in your bladder and urethra

    • urodynamic tests - to measure the pressure in your bladder or stomach, or the amount and flow of urine as it comes out of your urethra

    How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?

    Answer:
    A clinician will need to evaluate you in person to reach a diagnosis of urinary incontinence. They’ll ask you questions to figure out what type of urinary incontinence you’re experiencing, as well as any underlying conditions you might have that trigger it. In order to get a better sense of your incontinence, they may also ask you to keep a bladder diary for a few days.
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