Treatment of urinary incontinence

(Date: October 2022. Version: 2)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

Quick read

Urinary incontinence in pregnancy is usually managed using non-drug methods. A medicine may be used if incontinence has a severe impact on a woman’s wellbeing and quality of life.

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is accidental leakage of urine (pee). It is common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and pressure on the bladder from the baby. Urinary incontinence can also be unrelated to pregnancy. For example, some women have problems with the nerves that signal when the bladder feels full.

How can urinary incontinence be treated during pregnancy?

Urinary incontinence that occurs due to pregnancy is not usually treated with medication.

Urinary incontinence due to a problem with the bladder is sometimes treated with medicines such as oxybutynin (Ditropan®, Lyrinel®, Oxytrol®), tolterodine (Blerone®, Detrol®, Detrusitol®, Inconex®, Mariosea®, Neditol®, Preblacon®, Santizor®) or darifenacin (Emselex®).

What are the benefits of using medicines for urinary incontinence during pregnancy?

Some women find that urinary incontinence is troublesome. Use of medicines to treat urinary incontinence can therefore greatly improve quality of life.

Are there any risks of using medicines for urinary incontinence during pregnancy?

Possibly. Some women may choose to stop treatment and manage urinary incontinence during pregnancy using non-drug methods.

However, if urinary incontinence greatly affects quality of life and activities of daily living, staying on medication during pregnancy may be an option. A doctor will help to weigh up the possible risks and benefits of continuing with drug treatment.

What if I prefer not to take medicines for urinary incontinence in pregnancy?

Urinary incontinence medicines can usually be stopped during pregnancy if preferred. A doctor will be able to advise about this.

Will I or my baby need extra monitoring?

In the UK, all women will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No additional monitoring of the baby is required if a medicine for urinary incontinence was used in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken a medicine for urinary incontinence?

There is no evidence that medicines for urinary incontinence used by the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system allows women with a current or previous pregnancy to create a digitally secure ‘my bumps record’. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, and your pregnancy outcome. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit to register

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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