Date: October 2022, Version 2.0

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?

It is unclear if there are possible risks. Oxybutynin use in pregnancy has been studied in fewer than 50 women. Although the available information does not suggest it harms the baby in the womb, much more information needs to be collected to confirm this. There is no pregnancy safety information on any of the other drugs used for urinary incontinence.

If a woman taking medication for urinary incontinence discovers she is pregnant, she should contact her doctor to arrange a medication review.


Are there any alternatives to taking medicines for urinary incontinence in 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.

No 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 www.uktis.org.

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

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. 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 the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.