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What are the treatments for UTIs & UI in women?

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UTIs in Women

Because bacteria cause most UTIs, the usual treatment for the condition is bacteria-fighting antibiotics.1

The choice of medication and length of treatment depend on the woman's medical history, the type of bacteria causing the infection, and whether the woman is allergic to any antibiotics.1 Health care providers may order a sensitivity test to identify which type of bacteria are causing the infection and to help select the most effective antibiotic.

Antibiotic medication is most effective when patients take the full recommended amount. It is important not to stop taking antibiotics at the first sign of improvement. The infection may remain in the body even after symptoms disappear.

For more information on treatments for UTIs in women, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/#treatment.

For information about UTIs in children, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utichildren/index.aspx.

UI in Women

Health care providers select treatments for UI based on the woman's age, the specific type of bladder control problem, and lifestyle.2 Several options are described below:

Bladder Control Training

This method may involve the following strategies:

  • "Timed voiding," or using the bathroom at planned times; health care providers may use a bladder diary to help set a schedule
  • Kegel (pronounced KEY-guhl) exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles that help hold in urine
  • Lifestyle changes, including losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, avoiding lifting heavy objects, and preventing constipation

Medications

Medications can be used to:

  • Block nerve signals that cause urinary frequency and urgency
  • Help prevent bladder spasms by relaxing bladder muscles
  • Shrink the prostate and improve urine flow

Medications that prevent swelling and high blood pressure may increase urine output and aggravate UI. Switching to an alternative medication may solve the UI problem.

Biofeedback

Tracking the contractions of the bladder and urethra muscles with an electronic device or diary may help patients gain control over these muscles.

Neuromodulation

Implanting a device to stimulate the nerves leading from the spine to the bladder can be effective when urge incontinence does not respond to bladder training or medication.

Absorbent Underclothing

Absorbent products worn under clothes may help patients feel more assured and confident.

Vaginal Devices, Injections, and Surgery for Stress Incontinence

Options include:

  • A stiff ring inserted into the vagina to reposition the urethra
  • Collagen injected into the bladder neck and urethra tissues to thicken them

Surgery to support the bladder in its normal position, which may be done with a sling that is attached to the pubic bone. (Learn more in Pelvic Floor Disorders.)

Catheterization

Inserting a catheter tube through the urethra into the bladder can assist people whose bladders do not empty completely because of overflow incontinence, poor muscle tone, surgery, or spinal cord injury.

For information about UI in men, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/uimen/index.aspx.

For information about UI in children, visit http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/uichildren/index.aspx.


  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse. (2011). Urinary tract infections in adults. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utiadult/index.aspx [top]
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Clearinghouse. (2010). How is incontinence evaluated? Retrieved May 16, 2012, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen/index.aspx#evaluation [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 04/12/2013
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