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Urinary incontinence

Dealing with loss of bladder control

Urinary incontinence (UI) is loss of bladder control. Symptoms can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. It can happen to anyone, but it becomes more common with age. Women experience UI twice as often as men.

Most bladder control problems happen when muscles are too weak or too active. If the muscles that keep your bladder closed are weak, you may have accidents when you sneeze, laugh or lift a heavy object. This is stress incontinence. If bladder muscles become too active, you may feel a strong urge to go to the bathroom when you have little urine in your bladder. This is urge incontinence or overactive bladder. There are other causes of incontinence, such as prostate problems and nerve damage.

Prevention and treatment

Treatment depends on the type of problem you have and what best fits your lifestyle. It may include simple exercises, medicines, special devices or procedures prescribed by your doctor, or surgery.

In some cases, Kegal exercises can help tighten your pelvic floor muscles.

Women – Locate your pelvic muscles by stopping the flow of urine midstream. Empty your bladder, lie down, squeeze and hold these muscles for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. Do this 10 times. Your goal is to do at least three sets of 10 each day.

Men – Identify your pelvic floor muscles by stopping the flow of urine in midstream. Empty your bladder, then lie on your back with knees apart and bent. Squeeze your pelvic muscles for a count of three and relax for a count of three. Work up to doing 10 of these three times a day.

Source: National Institutes of Health