InterStim Therapy for Bladder Control Problems in Women

Discussing bladder control problems with friends, family, and physicians can make most people feel uncomfortable. Worrying about bladder control can keep some people from enjoying activities they love. More than 33 million Americans deal with overactive bladder (OAB), sometimes referred to as urge incontinence. A minimally invasive procedure called InterStim therapy is a treatment option available for OAB if other non-surgical options have not worked.

First, we will discuss bladder control signs and symptoms, then conservative treatments to try, and finally discuss Interstim therapy as an option to treat bladder control problems.

Symptoms of Bladder Control Problems

  • Frequent urges to urinate (urgency-frequency)
  • Inability to hold urine/leaking (urge incontinence)
  • Inability to urinate (complete urinary retention)
  • Incomplete bladder emptying (partial urinary retention)

Conservative Treatments for Bladder Control Problems

Conservative or non-surgical treatments for bladder control problems typically come first. Some of the conservative treatment options are:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes

If these conservative, non-surgical treatments have not effectively treated the bladder control problems, your physician may discuss InterStim Therapy with you as an option.

What is InterStim Therapy?

InterStim Therapy, also known as sacral nerve stimulation or sacral neuromodulation, is an FDA-approved treatment for several different bladder control problems, most often for women. This therapy is completely reversible and uses a small implantable device to send mild electrical pulses to stimulate the sacral nerves. These nerves are located near the spinal cord and just above the tailbone and control the pelvic floor, urinary and anal sphincters, lower urinary tract, and colon.

InterStim Therapy can be used to treat the following bladder control problems:

  • Overactive bladder (OAB): The sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate
  • Urinary retention: A feeling of “fullness” with an inability to fully empty the bladder
  • Urinary incontinence: The involuntary leaking of urine due to the loss of bladder control
  • Bowel or Fecal incontinence: Stool unexpectedly leaking from the rectum due to the inability to control bowel movements

InterStim Therapy for bladder control problems is not intended to treat issues like stress incontinence or urinary blockages. Also, it is not recommended for pregnant women, those with a pacemaker, or diabetic patients.

How Does InterStim Therapy Work?

The sacral nerves control the bladder and are located near the tailbone. When these nerves do not communicate effectively with the brain, normal bladder function is disrupted. InterStim Therapy for bladder control problems provides stimulation to these nerves called neurostimulation to communicate with the brain for increased bladder control. Neurostimulation is a reversible treatment that can be discontinued at any time by turning off or removing the device.

How is the InterStim Therapy Device Inserted?

Before the InterStim Therapy device that generates the electrical pulses is surgically implanted, the patient will have a trial period to ensure the therapy will reduce bladder control symptoms. This is the first phase of the two-phase procedure and typically takes 1 to 3 weeks. This trial period determines if InterStim Therapy for bladder control is right for you. With both phases of the process, you can go home the same day but need a driver.

The trial phase takes place in a medical office or operating room. The doctor numbs a small area near the tailbone and inserts a thin, flexible needle attached to a wire placed near the sacral nerves. Once the electrical stimulation starts, a comfortable pulsing or tingling sensation is sent to the vagina or rectal regions.

An external battery is then placed on a belt that is connected to the testing wire. A handheld remote control can then adjust the level of desired stimulation. During the first phase, your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder diary to track daily urinary habits. It is essential to abstain from sexual and strenuous activity to ensure the wires stay in place during this time. The incision sites should also remain dry and the wires free from potential entanglement.

The first phase of the InterStim procedure allows you to try neurostimulation to see if it is right for you without making a long-term commitment. Suppose your symptoms are significantly reduced or eliminated during the testing period. In that case, you may benefit from long-term use of sacral nerve stimulation, and the second stage of the procedure is performed.  A permanent battery is implanted in the upper part of the buttock and is similar to a heart pacemaker’s size. Most all normal activities can be resumed within two weeks after this surgery.

What Are the Risks of InterStim Therapy?

As with any minimally invasive procedure, there may be risks, which could include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Continued bladder control problems

The good news is that if, for any reason, the InterStim Therapy device can be shut off or completely removed. It is essential to share all health concerns and intentions with your doctor to determine if the device needs to be turned off. For example, if you become pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, the InterStim device would need to be shut off.

For even more information, visit:

InterStim Therapy for bladder control problems is not suitable for everyone. There are many alternate options to help manage OAB, urge incontinence, bowel or fecal incontinence, or any other symptom you are experiencing. Personally Delivered carries a wide variety of incontinence products to help with bladder and bowel control. If you need assistance choosing what incontinence products are right for your unique needs, our friendly and knowledgeable Product Experts are here to guide you through the purchasing experience. Give us a call today. You’ll be happy you did!

Popular Bladder Control Products for Women

Prevail Overnight Bladder Control Incontinence Pads

prevail overnight bladder control incontinence pads

Attends Discreet Bladder Control Pad

Attends Discreet Maximum Long Bladder Control Pads

Abena Abri-San Premium Shaped Bladder Control Pads

Abena Abri-San Premium Shaped Bladder Control Pads

TENA Intimates Heavy Absorbency Bladder Control Pads

TENA Intimates Heavy Absorbency Bladder Control Pads
Personally Delivered- home

Caring for Someone With Overactive Bladder

Many people wait to talk about their urinary symptoms for years due to embarrassment or may think there isn’t treatment available to manage it. Hesitating to speak up about the symptoms one is experiencing from an overactive bladder (OAB) can significantly impact that person’s quality of life and make treatment more difficult the longer they wait. It is important to know that this bladder condition can occur at any age in both men and women, but as we age, the risk increases. Therefore, addressing the symptoms with your doctor as soon as they start is essential.

Overactive Bladder Symptoms

There is a combination of symptoms that are directly related to an overactive bladder. These symptoms can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, so they should be taken seriously. If you are caring for someone that begins to show signs of any of these symptoms, consider starting a conversation with them and discuss seeking medical advice.

Urge Incontinence

A strong, sudden, and unintentional urge to urinate is called urge incontinence. The bladder muscles involuntarily contract and cause an immediate urge to urinate, sometimes resulting in leakage of urine. Urge incontinence can be caused by constipation, stroke, multiple sclerosis, or any other health condition that can affect a person’s bladder to properly hold urine.


Having the need to get up frequently throughout the night is referred to as nocturia. This can be a very tiring and frustrating symptom of an overactive bladder. A person with nocturia will likely lack a good night’s rest, affecting their alertness and activity levels throughout the day. Addressing nocturia as a symptom of OAB is important before it starts to affect a person’s productivity and relationships.

Frequent Urination

woman running to the toilet because of overactive bladder symptomsFrequent urination occurs when someone finds themselves using the restroom many more times than normal within a 24-hour period of time. Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, prostate issues, or urinary tract infections can cause frequent urination and should not be ignored. Treatment of those conditions can possibly eliminate this symptom altogether. Avoiding addressing this symptom of OAB can disturb one’s daily routine as well as lead to nocturia, disrupting sleep.

What Causes Overactive Bladder?

Although some specific causes are still unknown, here are some examples of  health conditions that can cause overactive bladder:

  • Bladder stones and tumors can cause abnormalities in the bladder and lead to OAB. These bladder stones and tumors can block the flow of urine, causing pain and/or frequent urination.
  • Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels and nerves resulting in the inability to control the bladder muscles. Because of the excess glucose in the blood, the kidney reacts and produces more urine, causing frequent urination.
  • Urinary tract infections, if left untreated, can lead to OAB. More common in women than men because of the shorter length of their urethra, urinary tract infections happen when bacteria enters the bladder. This causes an uncontrollable urge to urinate and typically only small amounts at a time.
  • Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or a stroke can cause OAB. Since these conditions cause damage to the body’s nervous system, those with these disorders suffer from bladder muscles contracting before the bladder is full, leading to urge incontinence and/or frequent urination.
  • Certain medications that are taken can also be a contributing factor to OAB or the worsening of it. Some medications can cause frequent urination. If you are caring for someone with these or other health conditions, take note of their symptoms and speak to their doctor if you sense the medication is the cause or simply making it worse.

Ways to Help Manage Overactive Bladder

If you are caring for someone with OAB, there are some things that you can do to help your patient or loved one manage their bladder condition.

Keep a Bladder Journal

One of the first things you can do is start recording the frequency and amount of urination your patient or loved one empties from their bladder throughout the day and night. Keeping a Bladder Journal is easy and can be taken to doctor appointments to better understand the severity of the condition.

Maintain a Healthy Weight and Diet

woman walking to help with symptoms of an overactive bladder as she keeps a bladder diary or bladder journal to help keep track of her symptomsBecause excess weight can put pressure on the bladder, those extra pounds can lead to urge incontinence. Developing an exercise plan you can do with them, such as taking brisk walks in the neighborhood, doing a television workout, or practicing yoga, can be beneficial to both of you.

When caring for someone with an OAB, try to incorporate healthy foods that are rich in fiber to help with overall digestion. Since the bowels sit very close to the bladder, if one becomes constipated, additional pressure on the bladder is felt, resulting in frequent urination. Try to avoid diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol that can contribute to the bladder muscles involuntarily contracting, leading to urge incontinence.

Try to Avoid Directive Statements

When speaking to your patient or loved one you are caring for, try to avoid statements that include words such as “should” or “don’t,” as these words tend to be discouraging. Rather than saying, “Don’t try to hold your urine in.” or “You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about your condition.”, a more understanding approach can help the patient feel less uncomfortable about the symptoms they are already experiencing.

What are the Treatment Options for OAB?

A great first step is to start keeping a Bladder Journal. This will help monitor the frequency and amount of voids and can be taken to the doctor to better understand the severity of your patient or loved one’s condition. After this behavioral treatment, there are other options available that have proved to be successful.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

woman practicing kegel exercises for an overactive bladder as she tries keeping a bladder diary or bladder journal to keep track of her symptoms

Both men and women can benefit by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that help control the involuntary contractions of the bladder. Also referred to as Kegel exercises, a doctor or physical therapist can correctly discuss how these are to be practiced. When the Kegel exercises are regularly performed, the bladder is better supported, preventing accidental urine leakage. These pelvic floor exercises also help train the bladder to hold urine for longer periods of time until the bladder is full, reducing or eliminating urge incontinence.

Absorbent Pads, Briefs, and Protective Underwear

Choosing the right incontinence padSimplicity incontinence liner, briefs, or protective underwear safeguards one’s clothing and can help avoid embarrassing accidents. Offered in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and absorbencies, these incontinence pads, briefs, and protective underwear allow the user to enjoy their daily activities and have uninterrupted nights. These incontinence products can help the patient or loved one lead a more dignified life that doesn’t involve limiting their activities.


Some medications can help relieve symptoms by relaxing the bladder, reducing urge incontinence occurrences. Many medications come with side effects such as dry mouth, dry eye, or constipation.  Most of the time, the doctor will suggest ways to keep the side effects to a minimum or completely under control.


Although there are many options that don’t require surgery, this may be the only option for those with severe OAB. One type of surgery involves using a portion of the bowel to increase the bladder’s capacity. An intermittent catheter will likely need to be used to empty the bladder after this type of surgery.

A last resort is the removal of the bladder itself. Once the bladder is removed, a stoma is constructed on the abdomen, and a urostomy pouch is attached to collect urine into a collection device.

When caring for someone with OAB, remember the importance of being patient, listening, observing, and reporting. Keep a track record, share information with their doctor, and most of all, have compassion and an encouraging attitude. An overactive bladder can be embarrassing and discouraging, so the more you can motivate and support your patient or loved one, the better their quality of life.

For more information about caring for someone with an OAB or any of the home delivery medical supplies we carry, contact us, and one of our Personally Delivered Product Experts will be happy to help.

Personally Delivered home horizontal logo

Maintaining a Healthy Bladder

Similar to a balloon, the bladder is a hollow organ made of tissue that stretches and holds our urine until we are ready to release. It is part of our urinary system that includes the kidneys and urethra. We all use our bladder several times each and every day, but do we know how to keep this organ healthy?

There are several things that can affect the health of our bladder. We will discuss what those are, the signs that you should look for, and how you might be able to prevent them here.

What Can Affect the Bladder's Health


Diabetes is a serious disease that can affect many parts of the body and can lead to other health problems such as nerve damage. The bladder is made up of many nerves that could be damaged by diabetes. This damage could affect a person’s bladder control.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

When bacteria grows in the urethra and bladder, a UTI has occurred. A bladder infection is the most common type of UTI and can cause urinary urge incontinence. This is when there is a frequent and sudden need to urinate and may also cause you to leak urine before making it to the restroom. One common activity that might cause a UTI is the use of a catheter to urinate. Indwelling catheters introduce bacteria into the lining of the bladder, causing irritation and infection. Closed catheter systems may be helpful in preventing UTIs.


Constipation can happen when a person doesn’t have enough fiber in their diet, are taking certain medications, have a medical condition, or are inactive for long periods of time. This puts pressure on the bladder because of the stool that is built up in the colon. The bladder is unable to stretch like it should, therefore affecting the bladder’s health.

Being Overweight

When a person carries a lot of extra weight, it increases pressure on the abdomen and bladder. This can also contribute to the weakening of the pelvic muscles and result in leakage from the bladder.


You may not think smoking has any relation to the health of one’s bladder, but the opposite is the case. Smoking causes harmful chemicals to collect in the urine and affect the bladder’s lining. This can ultimately lead to bladder cancer. Because the chemicals from smoking make their way directly into the bloodstream, they are filtered into the kidneys potentially forming ‘stones’. Kidney stones pass through the urethral tract, which can be a painful process. Also, ‘Smoker’s Cough’ can cause spasms in the bladder and lead to leakage.

man on a scale and woman lighting a cigarette

Signs You May Have a Bladder Problem

Every person is different, therefore each person’s bladder behaves differently and some signs you may be experiencing could mean you have a problem with your bladder.

Come of the most common signs of a bladder probem are:

  • Strong and frequent urges to urinate (urinary urge incontinence)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Waking up multiple times throughout the night to go to the bathroom
  • Leaking urine or the unability to hold it until you get to a restroom (urinary incontinence)
  • Experiencing a burning sensation before, during, or after urinating
  • Problems fully emptying your bladder

Just like any other health concern, always consult your doctor for their professional opinion if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. They may be able to do some testing to see if your bladder is actually in an unhealthy state and offer the right treatment options available to you if necessary.

Some Tips to Keep a Healthy Bladder

Even though we cannot control everything that happens to our overall health, including our bladder, we can take some measures to improve the health of our bladder. Here are a few suggestions that may contribute to keeping your bladder healthy:

Stay Active and Maintain a Healthy Weight

As we mentioned earlier, keeping your weight down will lessen any pressure on the bladder and allow you to release urine when it’s actually full. Exercising will also help to maintain a healthy weight and prevent possible constipation that can irritate the bladder.

Drink Enough Water

Try to drink the equivalent to your body weight in ounces of water each day. For most, this is 6-8 glasses of water per day. The bladder loves water and it is one of the best fluids that can help maintain its health. When you are getting enough fluids, your urine can flow freely and should be pale in color and odor-free.

woman drinking water and a group of women doing yoga in a park

Limit Intake of Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol are known to increase bladder activity and can lead to a higher frequency and urgency to urinate. Reducing the intake of these types of beverages may help decrease these symptoms.

Do Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

Known as Kegel exercises, doing pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the pelvic muscles and prevent leaking. The stronger the muscles, the better the bladder is at holding in the urine until you can use a restroom.

Void Often and When You Need To

Try to never hold the need to use the restroom. Holding urine in the bladder for extended periods of time can not only lead to a bladder infection, but it can also weaken the muscles.

Make Sure to Wipe Correctly

For females, be sure to wipe from front to back after using the toilet. This process will help keep bacteria away from the urethra that could cause a UTI as we previously mentioned.

Maintaining a healthy bladder is good for your general health and an important organ to take care of. Should you have a medical condition that causes you to have urinary incontinence or urge incontinence, we offer products that might help you confidently get through your days and nights. As always, consult with your doctor first if you have any concerns that your bladder is not functioning properly.

drawing of a bladder

Popular Products for Managing Incontinence

Attends Premier Underwear

Attends Premier Protective Underwear

Tranquility SmartCore Disposable Briefs

Tranquility SmartCore Disposable Brief

Tranquility Select Personal Care Pad

Tranquility Select Personal Care Pad

Cardinal Simplicity Basic Underpad

Simplicity Disposable Fluff Underpad
Personally Delivered- home