There are medicines for incontinence that you can only get from a doctor. Here is a selection.
Your doctor or healthcare professional will help you decide what medicines to take. Read the labels and talk to your healthcare team about side effects. Discuss any worries you might have before you start taking medication and throughout the period you take it.
Medicines for stress incontinence are not normally recommended at first. When they are used, it's for increasing muscle tone and strength. These are usually alpha or beta–adrenergic agonists or duloxetine. 1
Oestrogen and hormone replacement therapy may be suggested to women who have reached menopause. Again, this is to help increase muscle tone.
These medicines might be used to complement pelvic floor exercise and other treatments.
Some medicines stop the impulses that tell the bladder to contract. They do it by blocking the receptors that receive the impulses.
Overactive bladder syndrome
Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB), also called urgency urinary incontinence and urge incontinence, involves unwanted contractions of the bladder before it's full. OAB can be wet (with leakage) or dry (no leakage).
The medicines used to treat this condition are aimed at stopping these contractions. They are called antimuscarinics and are types of anticholinergics. There are lots of different preparations of these medications.
These medicines stop the impulses that tell the bladder to contract. They do it by blocking the receptors that receive the impulses.
Unfortunately they can't specifically target the receptors for the bladder. They work on all the receptors in the body. That means they can have side effects, such as dry mouth. Talk to your doctor about the side effects before any of taking these medications.
Tricyclic antidepressants are also sometimes given to people with OAB because they may help to decrease bladder contractility.
Doctors sometimes suggest using hormone therapy, including oestrogen, for women in menopause who have OAB. This is because menopause can cause a thinning of tissues and structures in the pelvic area. Hormone therapy can alleviate this.
You must talk to your doctor about using these medications before you start using them and during the time you take them.
Urinary Tract Infections and Cystitis
If you have a urinary tract infection or bacterial cystitis, you'll be offered a course of antibiotics. Interstitial cystitis treatments are more complex. Individualised treatments are necessary because people with this disease react and tolerate medications differently. Treatments can range from oral painkillers to injecting steroids directly into the bladder.
- Insite: Cystitis
- Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation UK
- International Painful Bladder Foundation
- Best Treatments from the BMJ UK: Cystitis Requires subscription
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Prostate enlargement causes obstruction of the urethra. A doctor might advise medicines that reduce the tone of the bladder-neck muscle. This takes pressure off the urethra and allows urine to pass from the bladder more easily. There is also a drug that's used to reduce the size of the prostate. Both medications can have side effects.
- Andrology Australia: Prostate Care
- NHMRC: Treatment options for BPH
- Virtual Medical Centre: Enlarged Prostate, including Video
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