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Agency for Healthcare Research Qualitywww.ahrq.gov

Taking Control: Non-surgical Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence in Women

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How is urgency incontinence treated?

Image still from the video 'What is bladder training? (For urgency incontinence)'

What is bladder training?
(For urgency incontinence)
(3-minute video)

Watch the video for more information about bladder training.
(View video in a new window)

Urgency UI can be treated with bladder training, medical devices, or medicines. You may need to try several treatments before finding what works best for you.

Select each treatment in the table below to learn more about it. The table lists the benefits and side effects of each treatment.

Select the buttons under the benefits and side effects of each treatment to learn more. The higher the number of women out of 10 that saw a result, the more likely you are to see the same result. These are general estimates. Every person may respond differently.

This table contains a list of exercises and medical devices that are used to treat urgency incontinence.

Training and Devices Benefits Side Effects
Bladder Training Stopped
leaking
Had less
leaking
Bladder training, or scheduled urination

Bladder training

This method involves building up the ability to hold your urine for longer and longer periods by following a schedule. The goal is to have a schedule that has you go only once every 3 or 4 hours. Even if you don't feel the need to urinate, you empty your bladder on the planned schedule. Every time you feel the urge to urinate outside of that schedule, you try and hold it for more and more minutes each time until you can keep to your schedule. Your doctor can help you set a schedule based on your own body. Watch the video below titled "What is bladder training?" for more information.


Women had less leaking when they combined pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) with bladder training.

Not known

The number of women who stopped leaking using this treatment is not known.

4 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 4 icons are a darker blue than the other 6.

About 4 out of 10 women had less leaking using this treatment. Women had even less leaking when they combined bladder training with pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT).

  Not known

Side effects are not known, but most researchers think there are few if any.

Medical Devices
Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS)

Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS)

Illustration showing how the PTNS device stimulates the tibial nerve at the ankle. An enlarged inset shows the relationship between the bladder and the tibial nerve.

PTNS uses a fine needle that is inserted by the ankle. Impulses are sent into the needle to travel through the tibial nerve, a nerve that runs up your leg and connects to nerves that control your bladder muscles. This treatment must be done in a doctor's office or clinic.




Not known

The number of women who stopped leaking using this treatment is not known.

3 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 3 icons are a darker blue than the other 7.

About 3 out of 10 women had less leaking using this treatment.

  Possible

Using this treatment caused discomfort or bleeding where the needle was inserted in very few women.

This table contains a list of medicines that are used to treat urgency incontinence.

About Urgency Incontinence Medicines
All of the medicines for urgency incontinence work about the same. About 1 to 2 out of every 10 women who take one of these medicines had less leaking or stopped leaking urine completely. The table below lists the results of research studies that looked at how these medicines can help improve or stop urgency incontinence. All of the medicines for urgency incontinence have side effects. The most common side effect is dry mouth. Constipation is the next most common side effect. Blurred vision and dry eyes are other possible side effects, but these do not happen as often. Some of these medicines can also cause upset stomach, nausea, or other side effects. The table below lists the results of research studies that looked at the specific side effects that can happen while taking a medicine for urgency incontinence.
Medicines Benefits Side Effects
Stopped
leaking
Had less
leaking
Dry
mouth
Constipation Dry
eyes
Upset
stomach
Other
Darifenacin (Enablex®)

Darifenacin (Enablex®)

Darifenacin works by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent, or uncontrolled urination. Darifenacin comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Take darifenacin exactly as your doctor tells you.

Not known

The number of women who stopped leaking while taking this medicine is not known.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women had less leaking while taking this medicine.

  2 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 2 icons are a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 2 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had constipation while taking this medicine.

Not known

The number of women who had dry eyes while taking this medicine is not known.

Less than
1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. Less than 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

Less than 1 out of 10 women had an upset stomach while taking this medicine.

Possible

Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

Fesoterodine (Toviaz®)

Fesoterodine (Toviaz®)

Fesoterodine works by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent, or uncontrolled urination. Fesoterodine comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Take fesoterodine exactly as your doctor tells you.




1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women stopped leaking while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women had less leaking while taking this medicine.

  2 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 2 icons are a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 2 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had constipation while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had dry eyes while taking this medicine.

Not known

The number of women who had an upset stomach while taking this medicine is not known.

Possible

Taking this medicine did not appear to cause nausea. Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

Oxybutynin (Ditropan®)

Oxybutynin (Ditropan®)

Oxybutynin works by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent, or uncontrolled urination. Oxybutynin comes in several forms. The tablets and syrup are usually taken two to four times a day. The extended-release tablet is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Take oxybutynin exactly as your doctor tells you.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women stopped leaking while taking this medicine.

2 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 2 icons are a darker blue than the other 8.

About 2 out of 10 women had less leaking while taking this medicine.

  3 to 4 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 3 and one half icons are a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 3 to 4 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

None

Taking this medicine did not appear to cause constipation.

Not known

The number of women who had dry eyes while taking this medicine is not known.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had an upset stomach while taking this medicine.

Possible

Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

Solifenacin (VESIcare®)

Solifenacin (VESIcare®)

Solifenacin works by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent, or uncontrolled urination. Solifenacin comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Take solifenacin exactly as your doctor tells you.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women stopped leaking while taking this medicine.

2 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 2 icons are a darker blue than the other 8.

About 2 out of 10 women had less leaking while taking this medicine.

  1 to 2 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 and one half icons are a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 to 2 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had constipation while taking this medicine.

Not known

The number of women who had dry eyes while taking this medicine is not known.

Less than
1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. One half of 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

The number of women who had an upset stomach while taking this medicine was much less than other medicines that cause this side effect.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. Less than 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had blurred vision while taking this medicine. Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

Tolterodine (Detrol®)

Tolterodine (Detrol®)

Tolterodine works by preventing bladder contractions. Tolterodine comes as a tablet or an extended-release capsule to take by mouth. The tablet is usually taken twice a day. The extended-release capsule is usually taken once a day. Take tolterodine exactly as your doctor tells you.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women stopped leaking while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women had less leaking while taking this medicine.

  1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had constipation while taking this medicine.

Not known

The number of women who had dry eyes while taking this medicine is not known.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had an upset stomach while taking this medicine.

Possible

Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

Trospium (Sanctura®)

Trospium (Sanctura®)

Trospium works by relaxing the bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent, or uncontrolled urination. Trospium comes as a tablet or an extended-release capsule to take by mouth. The tablet is usually taken twice a day on an empty stomach or 1 hour before meals, or sometimes it is taken once a day at bedtime. The extended-release capsule is usually taken once daily in the morning on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before a meal. Take trospium exactly as your doctor tells you.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a darker blue than the other 9.

About 1 out of 10 women stopped leaking while taking this medicine.

None

Taking this medicine did not appear to help women leak less.

  1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had dry mouth while taking this medicine.

Less than
1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. Half of one icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

Less than 1 out of 10 women had constipation while taking this medicine.

1 in 10
10 icons represent 10 women. 1 icon is a dark red representing the women who had the side effect.

About 1 out of 10 women had dry eyes while taking this medicine.

None

Taking this medicine did not appear to cause an upset stomach.

Possible

Talk to your doctor about other possible side effects.

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