Expert Tips on Managing Urinary Incontinence in Public

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Wed Mar 08 2023.

Expert Tips on Managing Urinary Incontinence in Public

Urinary incontinence is a common but rarely talked about problem. Unfortunately, this lack of discussion leaves many people with incontinence feeling isolated and alone. Sometimes, it causes people to avoid their regular routines or stop participating in activities they enjoy.

Since our Caregiving Specialists regularly receive calls about urinary incontinence, incontinence management, and incontinence products, we wanted to provide some pro tips for managing urinary incontinence in public. 

For this article, we spoke to a panel of incontinence experts, including:

  • Gregory Quayle, MD, a board-certified urologist with more than 14 years of experience

  • Dr. Jennifer Self Spencer, PT, DPT, CLT, OCS, a pelvic health physical therapist

  • Parmeet Kauer, a pelvic floor therapist at Brentwood Physical Therapy in Brentwood, California

Below, you’ll find several tips and tricks for managing urinary incontinence when you’re out and about.

Tips to Manage Incontinence While in Public

Tip #1: Practice Good Toileting Hygiene

“The best way to manage urinary incontinence in public is to practice good toileting habits,” Dr. Quayle said. “These habits include going to the toilet regularly and drinking plenty of fluids.”

Dr. Spencer agrees – “When using the bathroom in public, sit down completely and don’t hover! Hovering will lead to incomplete relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, which contributes to incomplete bladder emptying.” 

Tip #2: Wear Incontinence Products

Accidents can happen anytime, but it’s possible to protect your clothing and skin with incontinence products.

“Wear absorbent pads or underwear designed to help manage urine leakage,” said Dr. Quayle

At Carewell, we have hundreds of incontinence products to choose from, including diapers with tabs, pull-ups, booster pads, and underpads.

Tip #3: Avoid Incontinence Triggers

“Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods,” Dr. Quayle said.

“Think about all the bladder irritants you may be consuming,” said Dr. Spencer, “Including caffeine, carbonated drinks, sugary drinks, alcohol, citrus juices, tomato-based products, spicy foods, and chocolate.”

“You are more likely to leak urine after consuming these products, which can irritate the lining of the bladder and contribute to urinary urgency, frequency, and leakage.”

“Artificial sweeteners can all worsen symptoms of incontinence,” Kauer said.

Tip #4: Drink Plenty of Water

“If you have urinary incontinence, aim for more plain water consumption throughout the day,” Dr. Spencer said. “Drinking water dilutes your urine, causing less bladder irritation. Ideally, your urine should be clear to pale yellow; if it’s darker, drink more water!”

Tip #5: Only Use the Toilet When You Need To

“Avoid going to the toilet ‘just in case’ prior to leaving your house, leaving work, etc., as it contributes to worsening bladder habits,” Dr. Spencer said. “If you do this, your bladder will start to think it needs to empty when it’s only 1/4 or 1/2 full.”

Tip #6:Take Steps to Minimize Stress

“Do you have a lot of stress in your life? If you’re carrying tension in your neck, shoulders, or jaw and clenching your abdominals and glutes, it can lead to tension in the pelvic floor muscles,” Dr. Spencer said. 

“When you urinate, these muscles need to fully relax. If you’re not able to relax your pelvic floor muscles, your bladder won’t be able to empty completely.”

Tip #7: Never Rush

If you feel the urge to urinate while running errands or doing something else in public, walk to the restroom instead of running.

“Try to distract your mind by singing a song, counting backward, or saying the alphabet,” Dr. Spencer said. “If you urgently race to the bathroom, it will cause your pelvic floor muscles to tense up.”

Tip #8: Visit Your Doctor

Many older people experience urinary incontinence, but it isn’t necessarily a normal part of the aging process. 

If you have incontinence, “seek medical advice and help from a urologist or continence professional,” Dr. Quayle said. “There are many treatment options available to help manage the condition.”

“Things, unfortunately, tend to get worse when they’re not treated,” Dr. Spencer said.

“Pelvic floor therapy is a conservative treatment that can help tremendously. A pelvic floor therapist can identify causes for your urinary leakage.”

Pelvic floor therapy may include:

  • Relaxation and breathwork

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Postural education and training

  • Hands-on manual therapy for tight and painful muscles

  • Visceral mobilization

Kauer agrees, noting that “this type of therapy can help to strengthen the muscles that control bladder function and reduce leakage, which is why it's crucial to managing urinary incontinence in public.”


Urinary incontinence can negatively affect your confidence and self-esteem, but it doesn’t have to!

By keeping these pro tips in mind, you can reduce the frequency of accidents and continue doing the things you love.

“No matter the situation, it’s important to remember you aren’t alone in managing urinary incontinence in public,” Kauer said.

“With the right plan and lifestyle modifications, as well as support from family and friends, you can live a life free of worry or embarrassment. It may take some practice and self-care, but with determination and perseverance, you can not only manage but thrive.” 

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.