Medical treatments

There are advanced medical treatments that can help improve incontinence when first-line treatments don’t significantly improve the condition.

Who is it for?

What does it involve?

Neurotoxins, such as Botox, relax the muscles in the bladder by blocking nerve signal transmission. Depending on where you live, and the cause of your incontinence, you may be prescribed these if anticholinergics have been unsuccessful. Botox is normally given as an injection under local anaesthetic and can last for up to 10 months. Once the effect wears off, another injection can be given, as long as the last one was over 3 months ago.

medical treatments

Bulking agents (such as collagen, fat cells and silicone rubber) work to strengthen the sphincter. They are injected into the tissue around the urethra, in a procedure that takes such a few minutes and only requires a mild anaesthetic. The effects usually last for a couple of years, after which you will have to return for more injections. This can be a costly option for many people, since the treatment is normally not covered by national or private health insurance. Furthermore, there is ongoing debate around their use since some bulking agents may contain plastics. However, evidence suggests that they can be highly effective for many people, with three-quarters of women with stress incontinence said to benefit from them for some time. As always, talk through this treatment option thoroughly with a healthcare professional to find if it is suitable for you.

How can I find out more?

The majority of the medications for incontinence (except some for bowel incontinence), need to be prescribed by a healthcare professional. In the cases of fibre supplements, laxative and stool softeners, these can usually be obtained over the counter from a pharmacist. Whatever the case, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before starting new medication regime.

Depending on where you live, these medications may be free from a clinic or on prescription, or may need to be paid for.

References

European Guidelines on Urinary Incontinence [Internet]. 2018 [cited 18 August 2020]. Available from: https://wfip.org/european-guidelines-on-urinary-incontinence.

Bladder Control Problems (Urinary Incontinence) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 18 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/treatment.