Is My Incontinence Permanent?

Talk to your doctor about
whether or not your incontinence is permanent.
If you find yourself amongst the 25 million adult Americans who suffer from some degree of incontinence, you might be asking yourself the all-important question: “Is my incontinence permanent?”.  This may also be a question the caregiver of a loved one with incontinence may find him or herself asking. And what will most physicians say in response to this question? It depends on the circumstance, but for most, the answer is “no”. Incontinence does not have to be permanent.

Often diet, medication, and lifestyle impact incontinence, and sometimes making changes can correct temporary incontinence. For example, alcohol and caffeine are bladder stimulants and diuretics, which can lead to the frequent urge to urinate. Certain medications, such as cold medicines, heart medicines, blood pressure drugs, muscle relaxants, and other can lead to temporary incontinence. Urinary tract infections and constipation can also interfere with normal bladder and bowel control.

Often men who have had prostate surgery will experience temporary incontinence as a result of weakened muscles. Learn more about Prostate Surgery and Incontinence.

Of course, persistent incontinence may be caused by things that are not quite as easily remedied. Pregnancy, aging, menopause, hysterectomy, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, bladder stones, neurological disorders, obstructions, and damage to the pelvic floor muscles can all lead to a more permanent form of incontinence.

Pregnancy and childbirth, for example, can lead to hormonal changes, enlarged uterus, stress and weakness on the muscles that control the bladder, can lead to a weakened pelvic floor and often stress incontinence. This may not be totally corrected, but Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic muscles and improve the condition.

Aging can lead to an increase in overactive bladder symptoms, and weakening of the muscles that control the bowel and bladder. Menopause, a natural part of aging, can also lead to incontinence as a result of hormonal changes. 

The only way to know if your incontinence is permanent is to have a medical evaluation with an urological exam and diagnostic work-up. This should be followed up with an individualized treatment plan.

Your physician will likely ask about your symptoms, medications, diet, habits, frequency of urination, how often you leak, what kind of protection you use, what precipitates leaking (sneezing, coughing, running, jumping, etc.), if it is accompanied by constipation. They may ask you to keep a voiding diary

A treatment plan will be created that may include medications such as alpha blockers, anticholinergies, topical estrogen, imipramine, or duloxetine. In addition treatment will often include stimulating the sacral nerve, treating the prostate, kegel exercises, a male sling, using a bulking agent injected into the urethra, artificial sphincters, urethral plugs, and lifestyle changes such as fluid and diet management, bladder retraining, and more.

Talk to your doctor about whether or not your incontinence is permanent.

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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