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You don’t have to live with bladder leakage, but here’s why surgery is not the first line of defense.

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No one likes to talk about their bathroom habits. But the fact is that many people have issues with bladder control. Urinary incontinence—or the inability to control the release of urine—affects over 25 million people in the U.S., according to the National Association for Continence. Over 75% of those are women.

Bladder issues are not something you should have to live with. Most cases of bladder leakage are treatable or manageable. The first step to improve your quality of life when you have bladder problems is to talk to your doctor about what’s going on so you can discuss your options for treatment.

There are surgical options for treating bladder problems, but these are usually only used when other treatments have not sufficiently helped. Your doctor may start by recommending pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle changes or medications.

“We have a lot of treatment options out there, but there is no “one-size fits all” treatment plan for everyone. We are here to help you navigate all of these options to improve your quality of life.” 

-Meredith Rosenzweig, MD, Urology

How to Improve Bladder Control Problems

Bladder issues such as bladder leakage, urinary incontinence, having to urinate frequently or suddenly and other problems with urination aren’t just a natural part of aging. They should not be ignored and can usually be helped. If your bladder issues affect your quality of life, talk to your doctor.

Your doctor will start out by reviewing your medical history and asking questions about your bathroom and lifestyle habits. You may be asked to keep a bladder diary—a record of symptoms related to those habits over a period of time.

The first course of treatment typically involves lifestyle changes, such as developing a schedule for when you drink fluids and use the bathroom. Exercises may be recommended to strengthen your pelvic floor. Medications may also be prescribed, depending on the type of problem you have and its severity.

If you do not see improvements after trying these treatments, your doctor may suggest surgery. Bladder surgery is usually only recommended when symptoms are moderate to severe and don’t improve with other treatment methods. There are a number of different types of bladder surgery and your doctor can discuss which one would be best for you. The type of surgery performed is dependent on a number of factors, primarily the type of bladder control issue you are having. It is best to weigh the pros and cons of surgery before you make a decision about what to do.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 2, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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