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Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI), which is accidental leaks of urine, is a common, treatable condition.

There are several types of incontinence. Leakage that occurs with coughing, laughing, sneezing, or activity is known as stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is a frequent strong urge to urinate and leakage happens before getting to the bathroom. Overflow incontinence is frequent dribbling of urine because your bladder doesn't empty completely. Functional incontinence happens when something prevents you from making it to the toilet in time. For example, you may have arthritis and cannot unbutton your pants quickly. Some women may have more than one type of UI.

Many women delay or resist seeking treatment because they are embarrassed. But up to 20 percent of women Veterans experience UI.

It also can be caused medications, illnesses such as diabetes, infections, pregnancy, weak pelvic muscles, obesity, or simply drinking too many fluids, alcohol, or caffeine.

Often simple lifestyle changes can help, such as to:

  • Avoid drinking a lot before sleeping or at night
  • Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • Empty your bladder every 3-4 hours when you are awake and every 4-8 when you are sleeping
  • Avoid emptying your bladder "just in case"
  • Try exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles—check with your primary care provider to get instructions

What services does VA provide for urinary incontinence?

VA offers a number of services that can reduce urinary leakage. Your health care provider may suggest one or more of the following, depending on the cause of your UI.

  • Vaginal pessary, a small disc that when inserted can support your bladder muscles
  • Medications
  • Topical/vaginal estrogen treatment
  • Pelvic Floor Physical therapy
  • Botox® (or a generic brand) injections in the bladder
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Minimally invasive surgeries

How do I access services for urinary incontinence at VA?

Your first step is to discuss your UI with your primary health care provider. Your provider will talk with you, may suggest some tests to find the cause of your leakage, and will help you find the best treatment for you.

If you don't already use VA health care, you you may want to use the following online tools:

Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.

Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.

Find your local VA and make an appointment.

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The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:

  • Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
  • Setting up a medical appointment in your area
  • Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

Can I get disability compensation (monthly payments) or other benefits from VA related to urinary incontinence?

You may be eligible. Explore disability eligibility here. If you have questions, a Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) representative at your nearest regional office can explain more. Find your nearest regional office.

Where can I find more information, help and resources on urinary incontinence?

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