Do Drugs Help Urinary Incontinence?

Do Drugs Help Urinary Incontinence?

Julian Whitaker, MD

I am a woman in my fifties and am in good health except for high blood pressure. (I’m on a drug for this.) I’ve been having trouble with a leaky bladder and have had a few embarrassing incidents. My doctor wants to put me on a drug called Ditropan. Is this safe? — EG (via email)

Ditropan (oxybutynin) is the most commonly prescribed drug for urge incontinence, the sudden and uncontrollable need to urinate, but I do not recommend it. This drug has a plethora of side effects—dry mouth, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, rapid heartbeat, sexual dysfunction, constipation, impaired memory, and confusion.Instead of taking a drug that may alleviate one problem but will almost certainly cause others, try to identify the underlying cause of your incontinence and address that.

Prescription drugs are a common cause of urge incontinence, and drugs for high blood pressure are among the worst culprits. These include not only diuretics, which increase urine production, but also beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. Other drugs that can cause incontinence include some antidepressants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, decongestants, antihistamines, and drugs for prostate enlargement and gout. Talk to your doctor about reducing your dosage, switching to a medication that does not cause incontinence, or, better yet, trying natural solutions for lowering your blood pressure.

Other suggestions for incontinence include pelvic floor muscle training (Kegel exercises) and acupuncture, which are helpful for both women and men. Last but not least, if you are overweight, losing weight may lessen the severity of your problem. In one study, overweight or moderately obese women who lost weight were able to cut the number of “accidents” they experienced in half. Weight loss is also likely to improve your blood pressure.


  • Try Kegel exercises, acupuncture, and losing a few pounds if you are overweight.
  • Check with your physician to see if your medications may the causing the problem. Better yet, find natural solutions for your health concerns.
  • If your doctor isn’t on board with these alternative approaches, come see us. To make an appointment at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 944-8253.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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