Along with bladder retraining, there are also other treatment options for incontinence or interstitial cystitis that your doctor may recommend. Somewhat counterintuitively, perhaps, drinking two to three quarts of water a day may help with incontinence (so long as you stop drinking a couple of hours before bedtime), as concentrated urine caused by dehydration can cause the lining of the bladder and urethra to become irritated, making incontinence worse. A high-fiber diet may also help, as constipation can make urinary incontinence worse as well. In addition, pelvic muscle rehabilitation using vaginal weight training and/or pelvic floor stimulation can help improve muscle tone and reduce leakage, and specific medications for incontinence may be prescribed. Also, physicians sometimes recommend topical estrogen, which is applied to the vaginal area, if the cause of the incontinence is related to menopause or an estrogen deficiency. Surgery is an option as well, if the incontinence is related to structural problems (e.g., a blockage or an abnormally positioned bladder).
Other treatment options for bladder problems related to interstitial cystitis include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: Mild electric pulses are sent into the body for up to a few hours two or more times a day, either through wires placed on the lower back or special devices inserted into the vagina (for women) or rectum (for men).
- Bladder distention: In an effort to improve bladder capacity by interfering with pain signals transmitted by the bladder’s nerve cells, the bladder is overfilled with fluid while the patient is under general anesthesia.
- Bladder instillation: The bladder is filled with a solution that is held for a period of time ranging for a few seconds to 15 minutes, after which the fluid is drained through a catheter.
- Surgery: Surgery is usually only considered when other treatment options for IC have not succeeded; surgical options include cystoscopic manipulation and cystectomy (bladder removal). Another possible surgery is a bladder augmentation, wherein the bladder is enlarged to accommodate more urine.