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Common treatments

Your treatment will depend on the type of bladder or bowel problem you’re experiencing but some of the most common types of treatment are described here.

Stress incontinence

You may be asked to do pelvic floor exercises to help you strengthen the muscles. Sometimes mild electrical stimulation is also used to exercise and strengthen the muscles.

Losing weight can also help control stress incontinence and, if you smoke, try to stop – coughing may make you leak more often.

If the problem is severe, an operation may be suggested. You won’t be pushed into choosing this option, but for many it does provide a cure.

Overactive bladder

Bladder retraining is the best treatment to help and pelvic floor exercise may also help you hold on. If these don’t work, your doctor may prescribe medication to help calm an overactive bladder.

Overflow incontinence

Once the reason for the inability of your bladder to empty has been identified, a range of options can be discussed.


In addition to drinking enough and eating plenty of fibre-rich foods, your doctor may prescribe medicines. Sometimes suppositories or an enema are needed to clear severe constipation.

For more information about treatments, visit the NHS Choices website.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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