Non-surgical Treatment Options for Stress Urinary Incontinence

Women with severe urinary incontinence pay $900 annually for routine incontinence care. 15

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Pads and Protective Undergarments

When women first start to experience bladder leakage, often the first option they look at is liners or pads. Many women feel they can manage their day-to-day bladder leakage with liners, pads, disposable or reusable underwear. While pads do provide some degree of protection and discreet management, they do not try to improve your bladder function, unlike other treatment options.

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Lifestyle Changes

Before or in conjunction with other treatment options, a specialist will often suggest lifestyle changes to help decrease bladder leakage:

  • Lose weight: Carrying extra weight can have an impact on bladder leakage. You may benefit from losing even a small amount of weight.
  • Manage your fluid intake: If you find that you experience bladder leakage at night or in the morning, reducing the amount of liquid before bed could help. Limiting caffeine and alcohol can also be beneficial.

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Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises and Biofeedback

Bladder leakage in stress urinary incontinence is most often due to the weakening of the pelvic muscles and tissue that normally support the bladder14, actively strengthening the pelvic muscles may help lessen your symptoms.16

  • Physical Therapy: Going to see a pelvic floor physical therapist is the first step to creating a plan to strengthen your pelvic muscles. After performing an exam, the physical therapist will provide guidance on a treatment plan to help you regain pelvic floor function.16
  • Kegels: Kegels are an exercise you can do on your own to help strengthen your pelvic muscles.9
  • Biofeedback: As pelvic muscles are hidden from view; it can be hard to determine if you are doing Kegels correctly. Biofeedback can be used to offer real-time feedback to show when you have targeted the correct muscles during physical therapy exercises, such as Kegels.9

Non-surgical Treatments Options


A pessary is a small plastic device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the vaginal walls and provide lift to the bladder and urethra. Pessaries are available in a variety of sizes. Your provider will provide instructions on inserting and removing the device.9 To ensure you receive a pessary that is fitted correctly, it’s important to see a specialist who can provide guidance on what size is right for your body.17


While there are [prescription] medications that can help reduce the symptoms of bladder leakage, medication currently only treats urge urinary Incontinence and overactive bladder.9 If you are suffering from mixed urinary incontinence (a combination of stress and urge incontinence), you may benefit from using medication for urge incontinence. However, you may need additional treatments to decrease bladder leakage related to stress urinary incontinence.