People who are affected by urinary incontinence are often ashamed, so they are reluctant to talk about their condition. However, this shame usually only delays the necessary start of treatment. 

There are many possible causes for the involuntary loss of urine. Many of them can be treated successfully. But when does it make sense to see a doctor because of incontinence? The following article explains. 

Incontinence – what does it mean?

People are normally able to control when they pass stool or urine on their own. This means that they can consciously choose where and when to empty their bladder and bowels. However, if the loss of urine or stool is unintentional, this is called incontinence. 

About nine million people in Germany are affected by incontinence. However, most of them avoid talking openly about their condition, so that a visit to a doctor is delayed for a very long time. 

The causes of incontinence can be extremely varied – as are the corresponding treatment options. If, for example, weak pelvic floor muscles are responsible for the incontinence, targeted training of this area can already provide relief from the symptoms. But more serious causes can also trigger incontinence. 

For this reason, you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice incontinence – the chances of improving the symptoms or curing a related disease are then much higher. 

When should the doctor be consulted?

If those affected notice that they can no longer control or hold their stool or urine safely, a visit to the doctor should not be delayed for long. It is very important to determine the cause of the symptoms as soon as possible. 

In many cases, targeted muscle training helps with incontinence. However, if there is a serious condition behind the incontinence, more extensive treatments and therapies are necessary. In everyday life, however, those affected can already be relieved considerably by certain aids, such as wearing incontinence pants.

The treatment of incontinence

Once a diagnosis has been made by a specialist or family doctor, the next step is to initiate a therapy that is tailored to the particular cause of the incontinence. 

For example, if the doctor diagnoses stress incontinence, the affected muscles can often be strengthened through special pelvic floor training. However, if the patient suffers from so-called reflex incontinence, it can help to empty the bladder regularly with the help of a catheter. If a lack of oestrogen is the cause of incontinence in female sufferers, hormone treatments often bring about an improvement. 

In many cases, medication can also be used to help. Antispasmodics, for example, are recommended for urge incontinence. The bladder obstruction can be loosened in overflow incontinence with the help of alpha receptor blockers. These also prevent the muscles of the bladder from being activated spontaneously in cases of reflex incontinence. 

If an enlarged prostate or a fistula is responsible for the symptoms, surgery is usually recommended. If the usual therapies do not work, surgical interventions are often used for other causes. For example, the urethra can be fitted with an adjustable sling or an artificial sphincter.