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Treating Incontinence in Women: Retraining and Self-Catheterization

You and your healthcare provider can discuss other ways to manage your incontinence. These may be used with other treatments, or used alone. Your provider may teach you ways to train your bladder. Keeping a bladder diary can be helpful. Other helpful changes include reducing drinks that increase urination, such as those with alcohol or caffeine. Limiting drinks in the evening may also help.

Timed voiding

Timed voiding means urinating on a set schedule. This empties the bladder and helps prevent accidents. Visit the bathroom at the scheduled time. Don’t wait until you have the urge to urinate. Your healthcare provider can suggest how often you should urinate.

Woman walking into womens' bathroom.

Bladder retraining

If you have urge incontinence, you may be used to going to the bathroom very often. To help retrain your bladder, your healthcare provider may suggest using Kegel exercises. Each time you feel the urge to urinate, try to stop the feeling by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. To learn which muscles to contract for Kegel exercises, you can try to stop the stream of urine by contracting the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises help strengthen and control your bladder muscles. But Kegel exercises should be done when you don't have to urinate. It's not advised to do them each time you urinate. Your provider can give you a goal to work up to. This treatment should never be used in children.


Catheterization uses a thin tube (catheter) to drain urine from the bladder. The catheter is inserted through the urethra into the bladder. You may be asked to do self-catheterization. Regularly draining your bladder of urine can help control overflow incontinence. The procedure is painless and easy to learn. If this treatment will help you, your healthcare provider will teach you how to do it.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Marc Greenstein MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2019
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