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Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, the severity of your problem and the underlying cause. Your doctor will recommend the approaches best suited to your condition. Often a combination of treatments is used. Most people treated for urinary incontinence see a dramatic improvement in their symptoms.
Treatment options for urinary incontinence fall into four broad categories — behavioral techniques, medications, devices and surgery. In most cases, your doctor will suggest the least invasive treatments first, so you'll try behavioral techniques first and move on to other options only if these techniques fail.
The success of your treatment depends most of all on the right diagnosis. Talk to your doctor about the specifics and possible complications of any treatment. Ask questions and express concerns to help find out which treatment is right for you.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises. These exercises strengthen your urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles — the muscles that help control urination. Your doctor may recommend that you do these exercises frequently to treat your incontinence. They are especially effective for stress incontinence, but may also help urge incontinence.
To do pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels), imagine that you're trying to stop your urine flow. Squeeze the muscles you would use and hold for a count of three. Relax, count to three again, then repeat. You can do these exercises almost anywhere — while you're driving, watching television or sitting at your desk at work.
With Kegels, it can be difficult to know whether you're contracting the right muscles and in the right manner. In general, if you sense a pulling-up feeling when you squeeze, you're using the right muscles. Men may feel their penises pull in slightly toward their bodies. To double-check that you're contracting the right muscles, try the exercises in front of a mirror. Your abdominal, buttock or leg muscles shouldn't tighten if you're isolating the muscles of the pelvic floor. Another way to be sure you're doing Kegels correctly is a simple finger test. Place a finger in your anus. Then squeeze around your finger. The muscles you contract are your pelvic floor muscles.
If you're still not sure whether you're contracting the right muscles, ask your doctor for help. Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist for biofeedback techniques that will help you identify and contract the right muscles.
After several months of doing pelvic floor muscle exercises correctly, you should notice improvement in your urinary control. Contract your pelvic muscles to control leakage when you have an urge to urinate or when you cough or sneeze.
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