Reflex Incontinence: Causes, Treatment, Coping Methods

Reflex Incontinence: Causes, Treatments, and Coping Strategies

As we get older, certain tissues and muscles in the body start to weaken. This is a big culprit for urinary incontinence issues that affect both men and women. But there’s not just one type of incontinence, there are many: urge incontinence (aka overactive bladder), stress incontinence that’s triggered by sneezing and coughing, overflow incontinence and bowel incontinence are some of the most common types. Below, we’re taking a deeper dive into reflex incontinence and how to treat it. 

What is Reflex Incontinence?

Reflex incontinence is the unexpected loss of urine due to a spasm of the bladder’s detrusor muscle — the muscle that pushes urine out of the bladder. Although it’s similar to urge incontinence because both are triggered by bladder spasms, reflex incontinence is undetectable, meaning individuals cannot feel the sudden urge to urinate. This leads to frequent accidents with varying amounts of urine.

Causes of Reflex Incontinence 

The culprit of reflex incontinence starts in the brain. It’s a neurological issue that affects messaging from the brain to the bladder that travels via the spinal cord. This can be the results of the following spinal conditions:

Symptoms of Reflex Incontinence 

Because reflex incontinence gives no warning, common symptoms include: 

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Urine leaks without any warning or urge to urinate 
  • Bedwetting
  • Sudden and frequent urine leakage (from dribbles to larger amounts)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Not able to fully empty the bladder when urinating
  • Frequent urination 

The Process of Being Diagnosed 

It’s important to seek out professional medical help from a urologist if you or a loved one are experiencing what could be reflex incontinence. By performing a urinalysis and reviewing your medical history, current health conditions, and medications, a urologist can diagnose your condition. 

Usually, they’ll also assess your bathroom schedule and track how often you urinate throughout the day, including any accidents. Additional testing might be recommended  based on the urologist’s findings, such as an X-ray or ultrasound, a pad test, and a bladder stress test.

How to Treat Reflex Incontinence 

There are many treatment options available for reflex incontinence, depending on the severity of the issue. It’s extremely important to consult your urologist to get a personalized treatment plan for you. Common treatments include: 

  • Prescription medication
  • Surgery and medical devices (for some cases, such as sacral nerve stimulation or Botox for the bladder)
  • Physical therapy and biofeedback 

Ways to Manage Symptoms of Reflex Incontinence  

Reflex incontinence isn’t easy to deal with, but it certainly is treatable. With a combination of lifestyle shifts, you can experience more comfort by managing symptoms at home. Below are a few ways to manage reflex incontinence.

Dietary Changes & Fluid Management

Increasing your fiber intake will help to maintain regular bowel movements, which will improve your overall bladder function. In addition, cutting back on alcohol and coffee will help to stop irritating your bladder. It’s also important to drink plenty of water but avoid too much fluid intake around bedtime. 

Choose the Right Products 

It’s important to feel confident and secure while experiencing reflex incontinence. Adult diapers, pull-ups, pads and underwear are available so you can rely on support all day and night — no matter where you are or what you’re up to.

If you are looking for the best products to help manage reflex incontinence, try our highly rated premium diapers from Dry Direct — a Parentgiving exclusive brand. For example, our Dry Direct Ultimate Underwear offers 3x the absorbency as anything sold in brick and mortar stores. 


Regularly exercising will help keep excess weight off that puts pressure on the bladder. Plus, pelvic floor exercises will help retrain the bladder to function optimally, giving you fewer accidents overall.

How Parentgiving Can Help   

With Parentgiving, you can explore a wide variety of the best incontinence products available. Adults across the country rely on our products and expert information to stay supported and confident while managing reflex incontinence.