Behavioral Treatments for Urge Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence in Women

If you have urinary incontinence, you can take some steps on your own that may stop or reduce the problem.

  • Manage your fluid intake.  In 2004, the Institutes of Medicine reported that most people meet their daily hydration needs by letting their thirst guide them. Little scientific evidence exists that supports the need for eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.  If you are getting up to void more than twice per night, you should consider limiting the amount you are drinking during the day and after dinner.
  • Void on a schedule. Set a schedule of urinating every 2 to 4 hours, regardless of whether you feel the need.
  • Talk with your doctor about all prescription and nonprescription medicines you take. Find out if any of them may be making your incontinence worse.
  • Use a BLADDER DIARY to keep track of your symptoms and any leaking of urine. Your diary can help you and your doctor find the best treatment for you.
  • If you have trouble reaching the bathroom before you urinate, try making a clearer, quicker path to the bathroom and wearing clothes that are easily removed (such as those with elastic waistbands or Velcro closures). Or keep a bedpan close to your bed or chair.
  • Wear a tampon while doing activities such as jogging or dancing to put a little pressure on your urethra and to temporarily slow or stop leakage.
  • Exercises. Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises can help women who have any type of urinary incontinence. These exercises are especially useful for stress incontinence. But they may also help urge incontinence.
  • Lifestyle changes. Losing weight often helps stress incontinence. Remember that effective weight-loss programs depend on a combination of diet and exercise.
  • Diet & Weight loss. Sometimes making lifestyle changes can help with urge incontinence. Try to identify any foods that might irritate your bladder—including citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes, vinegars, dairy products, aspartame, and spicy foods—and cut back on them. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber. Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.If you smoke, try to quit. This may reduce coughing, which may reduce your problem with incontinence. 
  • Get some exercise every day. Try to do moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to do vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It’s fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
  • Urge Suppression Strategies- “Freeze and Squeeze”:  If you have trouble reaching the bathroom before you start losing urine, we recommend trying this technique.  When you get the urge to urinate: 1. Stop and stay still, sit down if you can   2. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles quickly 3 to 5 times; repeat as needed.   3. Relax the rest of your body and take a deep breath.   4. Concentrate on suppressing the urge.   5. Distract yourself to get your mind on something else.   6. Wait until the urge subsides, then walk to the bathroom at a normal pace.  7. Don’t ignore the message
  • Bladder Training. Once you have mastered the Urge Suppression technique, you can now train your bladder to increase the time between the initial urge and the time you actually void.  Simply follow the Urge Suppression technique, but instead of walking calmly to the bathroom at your normal pace, you will wait a few minutes before voiding.  At firs you may only be able to postpone voiding by 1 minute, but keep trying to increase the interval between the initial urge and the time you actually void until you are only voiding every 3 to 4 hours.