Treating Incontinence in Women: Retraining and Self-Cath

Woman walking into womens' bathroom.

You and your healthcare provider can discuss other ways to manage your incontinence. These may be used with or instead of other treatments. 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. Reducing drinking beverages in the evening may also help.

Timed voiding

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

Bladder retraining

If you have urge incontinence, you may be used to going to the bathroom very often. To help “retrain” your bladder, your health care 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 do not have to urinate. It is not recommended to do them each time you urinate. Your provider can give you a goal to work up to. Note that 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 perform 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 health care provider will teach you the process.