Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treatments for stress incontinence can usually substantially reduce, if not eliminate, urinary leakage and help you regain control of your bladder. The urge incontinence component of mixed incontinence can be very difficult to treat, and you may need support.
Going out and about
Maintaining your connection with family, friends and co-workers can prevent feelings of isolation and depression that can accompany incontinence. Being prepared may help you feel more comfortable when you're out and about:
- Stock up on supplies. Take along sufficient incontinence pads or protective undergarments and possibly a change of clothes. Incontinence products are discreet and often can be stowed in a roomy purse or a small backpack. Extra supplies and spare clothes can be kept in the trunk of your car or a backpack for use when needed.
- Scout out your destination. Familiarize yourself with the restrooms available at your destination. Choose seating that allows easy access to restrooms.
- Take good care of your skin. Prolonged contact with wet clothing can cause skin irritation or sores. Keep your skin dry by changing your garments when they're wet and applying a barrier cream if your skin is frequently wet.
Sexuality and incontinence
Leaking urine during sexual intercourse can be upsetting, but it doesn't necessarily have to get in the way of intimacy and enjoyment:
- Talk with your partner. As difficult as this may be initially, be upfront with your partner about your symptoms. A partner's understanding and willingness to accommodate your needs can make your symptoms much easier to handle.
- Empty your bladder beforehand. To reduce your chances of leakage, avoid drinking fluids for an hour or so before sex and empty your bladder before intimacy starts.
- Try a different position. Altering positions may make leakage less likely for you. For women, being on top generally gives better control of the pelvic muscles.
- Do your Kegels. Pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel exercises) strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce urine leakage.
- Be prepared. Having towels handy or using disposable pads on your bed may help ease your worry about leakage and contain any leakage.
Being incontinent is never the norm as you age. Treatments are usually available to significantly reduce the effects of incontinence on your life. Stress incontinence can often be cured.
Find a doctor who's willing to work with you to determine the best way to treat your incontinence. Choosing the right treatments for you should be a partnership. If the first doctor doesn't want to discuss the pros and cons of these many options with you, find another who will.
You might consider joining a support group. Organizations such as the National Association For Continence can provide you with resources and information about people who experience stress incontinence. Support groups offer an opportunity to voice concerns and often provide motivation to maintain self-care strategies.
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