Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control resulting in leakage of urine. There are two main types of urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs during laughing, coughing, sneezing, exercising, or other types of physical straining, when abdominal pressure from these activities overcomes weakened urinary tract and pelvic floor muscles that normally prevent leakage. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, occurs when bladder or other urinary muscles contract inappropriately. Mixed incontinence refers to a condition that has features of both stress and urge incontinence.1
Women are twice as likely as men to experience urinary incontinence, and older people are also more susceptible to the condition. Stress incontinence is often related to pregnancy- and childbirth-related and age-related loosening of urinary tract tissues, but can also result from surgery or trauma to pelvic tissues. Urge incontinence can result from nerve damage due to stroke and other neurological diseases but often has no apparent cause.2
|Identify offending foods||
The influence of diet on the risk of urinary incontinence is unclear, though preliminary research suggests that foods like potatoes, carbonated drinks, and fat.
The influence of diet on the risk of urinary incontinence is unclear. One preliminary study of men reported that eating more potatoes increased the risk while more beer consumption reduced the risk of overactive bladder.15 A similar study of women reported increased risk of overactive bladder from higher carbonated drink intake, and lower risk with increased consumption of vegetables, bread and chicken.16 Risk of stress incontinence in women has been linked with higher intake of carbonated drinks and fat, and lower consumption of bread.17 , 18
|Watch the caffeine||
Higher consumption of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages has been associated in with increased risk or severity of urinary incontinence.
Higher consumption of coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages has been associated in with increased risk or severity of urinary incontinence, which could be due either to effects of higher fluid accumulation in the bladder or to effects of caffeine on bladder muscle contractions.19 , 20 A controlled trial found that restricting caffeine to less than 100 mg per day reduced some symptoms of urinary incontinence.21 Another controlled study reported that fluid restriction was effective for reducing urinary incontinence symptoms, but that simply switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated beverages was not.22 Other studies have not found a significant effect of changing either caffeine or fluid intake.23 , 24
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
Magnesium (urge incontinence )
150 mg twice daily
In a double blind study, women with urge incontinence reported improvement after supplementing with magnesium.
In a double blind study, women with urge incontinence took approximately 150 mg of magnesum twice daily for one month, and reported improvement, including fewer episodes of urge incontinence, less frequent urination, and fewer awakenings at night to urinate.25 This confirmed an earlier double-blind study showing that a similar amount of magnesium reduced symptoms of urge incontinence.26
Vinpocetine (urge incontinence )
5 mg three times daily for two weeks, then 10 mg three times daily for two weeks
In a small, preliminary study, some men and women with urge incontinence reported reduced symptoms and also improved in laboratory measures of bladder muscle control when supplementing with vinpocetine.
Vinpocetine is a semisynthetic derivative of vincamine, one of the major active compounds found in periwinkle. In a small, preliminary study, men and women with urge incontinence were given 5 mg of vinpocetine three times daily for two weeks, then 10 mg three times daily for an additional two weeks. About half of the subjects reported reduced symptoms of urge incontinence and also improved in laboratory measures of bladder muscle control.27 However, a small, double-blind trial found improvement in only one of several measures of urge incontinence.28 More double blind trials are needed to confirm these findings.
Vitamin B12 (if deficient )
See a doctor to test for deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficency can cause urinary incontinence that may be corrected with supplementation.
Vitamin B12 deficency can cause urinary incontinence that can be cured with B12 supplementation.29 One preliminary study,30 but not others,31 , 32 have found that low blood levels of B12 were associated with urinary incontinence in older people. Controlled trials are needed to determine whether B12 supplementation might be useful as a treatment for the common types of urinary incontinence.
Refer to label instructions
Higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with lower risk of urinary incontinence in women.
Vitamin D may be important for normal muscle function, including muscles that help control urinary continence.33 , 34 Higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with lower risk of urinary incontinence in women, according to one preliminary study.35 Controlled trials are needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements can help prevent or treat urinary incontinence.
1. Santiagu SK, Arianayagam M, Wang A, Rashid P. Urinary incontinence-pathophysiology and management outline. Aust Fam Physician 2008;37:106-10.
2. Santiagu SK, Arianayagam M, Wang A, Rashid P. Urinary incontinence-pathophysiology and management outline. Aust Fam Physician 2008;37:106-10.
3. Bump RC, McClish DK. Cigarette smoking and urinary incontinence in women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1992;167:1213–8.
4. Koskimaki J, Hakama M, Huhtala H, Tammela TL. Association of smoking with lower urinary tract symptoms. J Urol 1998;159:1580–2.
5. Shamliyan T, Wyman J, Bliss DZ, et al. Prevention of urinary and fecal incontinence in adults. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2007;161:1-379 [review].
6. Jiang K, Novi JM, Darnell S, Arya LA. Exercise and urinary incontinence in women. Obstet Gynecol Surv 2004;59:717-21 [review].
7. Townsend MK, Danforth KN, Rosner B, et al. Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women. J Urol 2008;179:1012-6.
8. Danforth KN, Shah AD, Townsend MK, et al. Physical activity and urinary incontinence among healthy, older women. Obstet Gynecol 2007;109:721-7.
9. Wolin KY, Luly J, Sutcliffe S, et al. Risk of urinary incontinence following prostatectomy: the role of physical activity and obesity. J Urol 2010;183:629-33.
10. Hunskaar S. A systematic review of overweight and obesity as risk factors and targets for clinical intervention for urinary incontinence in women. Neurourol Urodyn 2008;27:749-57 [review].
11. Hunskaar S. A systematic review of overweight and obesity as risk factors and targets for clinical intervention for urinary incontinence in women. Neurourol Urodyn 2008;27:749-57 [review].
12. Subak LL, Richter HE, Hunskaar S. Obesity and urinary incontinence: epidemiology and clinical research update. J Urol 2009;182(6 Suppl):S2-7 [review].
13. Subak LL, Wing R, West DS, et al. Weight loss to treat urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women. N Engl J Med 2009;360:481-90.
14. Brown JS, Wing R, Barrett-Connor E, et al. Lifestyle intervention is associated with lower prevalence of urinary incontinence: the Diabetes Prevention Program. Diabetes Care 2006;29:385-90.
15. Dallosso HM, Matthews RJ, McGrother CW, et al. The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with the onset of overactive bladder: a longitudinal study in men. Public Health Nutr 2004;7:885-91.
16. Dallosso HM, McGrother CW, Matthews RJ, et al. The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with overactive bladder and stress incontinence: a longitudinal study in women. BJU Int 2003;92:69-77.
17. Dallosso H, Matthews R, McGrother C, Donaldson M. Diet as a risk factor for the development of stress urinary incontinence: a longitudinal study in women. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004;58:920-6.
18. Dallosso HM, McGrother CW, Matthews RJ, et al. The association of diet and other lifestyle factors with overactive bladder and stress incontinence: a longitudinal study in women. BJU Int 2003;92:69-77.
19. Higa R, Lopes MH, dos Reis MJ. Risk factors for urinary incontinence in women. Rev Esc Enferm USP 2008;42:187-92 [review, in Portuguese].
20. Kincade JE, Dougherty MC, Carlson JR, et al. Factors related to urinary incontinence in community-dwelling women. Urol Nurs 2007;27:307-17.
21. Bryant CM, Dowell CJ, Fairbrother G. Caffeine reduction education to improve urinary symptoms. Br J Nurs 2002;11:560-5.
22. Swithinbank L, Hashim H, Abrams P. The effect of fluid intake on urinary symptoms in women. J Urol 2005;174:187-9.
23. Tomlinson BU, Dougherty MC, Pendergast JF, et al. Dietary caffeine, fluid intake and urinary incontinence in older rural women. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct 1999;10:22-8.
24. Dowd TT, Campbell JM, Jones JA. Fluid intake and urinary incontinence in older community-dwelling women. J Community Health Nurs 1996;13:179-86.
25. Boschert S. Milk of magnesia may help ease urinary urge incontinence. Fam Pract News 2003;33:46.
26. Gordon D, Groutz A, Ascher-Landsberg J, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of magnesium hydroxide for treatment of sensory urgency and detrusor instability: preliminary results. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1998;105:667-9.
27. Truss MC, Stief CG, Uckert S, et al. Initial clinical experience with the selective phosphodiesterase-I isoenzyme inhibitor vinpocetine in the treatment of urge incontinence and low compliance bladder. World J Urol 2000;18:439-43.
28. Truss MC, Stief CG, Uckert S, et al. Phosphodiesterase 1 inhibition in the treatment of lower urinary tract dysfunction: from bench to bedside. World J Urol 2001;19:344-50 [review].
29. Healton EB, Savage DG, Brust JC, et al. Neurologic aspects of cobalamin deficiency. Medicine (Baltimore) 1991;70:229-45.
30. Rana S, D'Amico F, Merenstein JH. Relationship of vitamin B12 deficiency with incontinence in older people. J Am Geriatr Soc 1998;46:931-2.
31. Garcia A, Smith M, Freedman M. Vitamin B12 deficiency and incontinence in older people. Can J Urol 2000;7:1077-80.
32. Endo JO, Chen S, Potter JF, et al. Vitamin B(12) deficiency and incontinence: is there an association? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002;57:M583-7.
33. Crescioli C, Morelli A, Adorini L, et al. Human bladder as a novel target for vitamin D receptor ligands. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90:962–72.
34. Schröder A, Colli E, Maggi M, Andersson KE. Effects of vitamin D(3) analogue in a rat model of bladder outlet obstruction. BJU Int 2006;98:637–42.
35. 3] Badalian SS, Rosenbaum PF. Vitamin D and pelvic floor disorders in women: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Obstet Gynecol 2010;115:795-803.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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