Pharmaceutical treatment

A wide variety of medication is available to treat the various forms of incontinence. A rough distinction is made between bladder relaxants and sphincter strengthening medication. A patient's suitability for medication in the first place depends on a range of factors, such as their clinical findings, age and situation as well as any pre-existing conditions.

Bladder relaxants

Bladder relaxants are known as anticholinergics and are the medication of choice for treating forms of urinary incontinence associated with an overactive bladder muscle. They are also called spasmolytics or antispasmodics. The bladder muscle thickens and exerts so much force that the bladder sphincter muscle cannot withstand this pressure for long. This results in a strong urge to urinate, frequent urination and involuntary urine leaks (urge incontinence) even when the bladder is not very full. These bladder relaxants only work, however, when they are supported by accompanying measures such as bladder training, the local administration of oestrogen and the fitting of pessaries. They also need a certain amount of time to take effect. Like all medication, anticholinergics may cause certain side effects, such as a dry mouth, blurred vision, palpitations, an upset stomach and constipation, which vary widely in severity from person to person.

Sphincter strengthening medication

Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors are one example of medication suitable for treating stress incontinence. They strengthen the muscles in the region of the urethra by acting on the central nervous system and are a very promising and often very effective conservative treatment option for stress incontinence. Several studies have shown that this treatment can effectively reduce the frequency of incontinence episodes in around half of cases. This treatment method also causes undesirable yet often controllable side effects, the most frequent of which are temporary nausea, a dry mouth and constipation.