Urinary Incontinence

We know that urinary incontinence — or bladder control loss — can cause embarrassment and shame and hurt your personal and professional lives. We also know that people with the condition often suffer in silence and don’t even share their problem with a doctor.

But you’re not alone — 30 percent of people will experience an episode of incontinence in their life, including bedwetting. It’s a problem for millions of adults, and one that our specialists can usually solve. Treatments continue to improve, including a number of good options we can try before surgery.

Why choose Henry Ford VUI for urinary incontinence?

Since launching our urinary incontinence program in 1999, our specialists have successfully treated thousands of patients. Our program offers:

  • Prompt assessments
  • The latest techniques and treatments, including biofeedback (training your body) and neuromodulation (stimulating nerve signals)
  • A full range of options, including physical therapy and other non-surgical approaches
  • Fellowship-trained doctors who are board-certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and who work to advance the field, with research into treatments and outcomes
  • Expertise most community practices don’t offer — especially for complex cases
  • The experience and knowledge to know when a treatment isn’t working and it’s time to try something else
  • The ability to handle complications from mesh treatments and pelvic organ prolapse
  • Doctors and staff ready to work with you one-on-one

Stress, overactive bladder and other types of urinary incontinence

  • Stress incontinence: Uncontrollable loss of urine during exercise, coughing/sneezing, lifting or any kind of exertion that puts pressure on the bladder. This is the most common form in women, and is almost always curable.
  • Urge incontinence (also called urgency or overactive bladder): Difficulty holding urine once the urge to urinate occurs. It’s often found in people with diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Men might also have bladder cancer or an enlarged prostate.
  • Overflow incontinence: Small leaks of urine from the bladder. It’s sometimes caused by a blockage in the urethra or from diabetes or another disease that affects the nerves controlling the bladder.
  • Functional incontinence: Found in older or disabled people who have difficulty recognizing the need to urinate or may have difficulty reaching a toilet in time due to a disability.

Urinary incontinence treatment

We offer a full range of effective treatments for urinary incontinence, with our recommendation based on your particular condition. Many treatments are performed in our offices rather than an operating room and are often completed the same day. Treatments include:

  • Behavioral changes: We may advise you to cut back on caffeine, alcohol or excess fluids.
  • Physical therapy: We can teach you how to do (Kegel) exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that control urination. We can also use biofeedback, which takes measurements with sensors to show you on a screen where the muscles are and how to control them. We also have an Incontinence/Pelvic Pain Rehabilitation Program.
  • Medications: Medications can calm an overactive bladder, increase the amount of urine it can hold, help you empty it or (for women) restore nearby tissues.
  • Devices (for women): A urethral insert can temporarily hold back urination, while a ring called a vaginal pessary can support the bladder and is worn throughout the day.
  • Botulinum toxin type A (Botox): Botox is injected into the bladder.
  • Neuromodulation: We stimulate the nerves controlling urination, which fixes signaling problems by restoring or moderating the pathways. We have found this particularly effective for overactive bladder (75 percent success rate), with two types:
    • Sacral nerve stimulation: A bladder “pacemaker” is implanted to directly stimulate the sacral nerves in the lower back controlling the bladder.
    • Posterior tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS): During this in-office treatment, we use an external electrode to stimulate the tibial nerve near the ankle, which in turn signals the sacral nerves.
  • Surgery: Different kinds of surgery can help keep the urethra closed, support the urethra and bladder connection or (for men) implant a button and control valve for urination.

Transvaginal mesh and pelvic prolapse repairs

Our doctors are specially trained in proven techniques for treating pelvic prolapse — the weakening of muscles and ligaments that causes the pelvic organs to slip out of place. They can also repair complications for women who have received problematic transvaginal mesh treatments for pelvic organ prolapse and stress incontinence.

What causes urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is caused by a number of factors:

  • Certain medications
  • Certain foods and sweeteners
  • Too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Constipation
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Aging muscles
  • Hysterectomy
  • Obstructed urinary tract
  • Neurological disorders and spinal issues like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia, herniated discs, radical pelvic surgery, spinal cord injury and spinal bifida
  • Enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, either as a symptom of the disease or a treatment side effect
Make a urology appointment

Contact our urology team

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  • You currently have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
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Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email CommunicationAccess@hfhs.org.

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