Urinary Incontinence (Holistic)

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About This Condition

  • Tone the pelvic floor Consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to learn how to effectively practice pelvic floor exercises to control incontinence
  • Train the bladder Consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to learn bladder training procedures to control incontinence
  • Try magnesium Take 150 mg twice daily to reduce symptoms of urge incontinence
  • Get fit Use a weight-loss program that includes regular exercise to reduce incontinence symptoms and improve quality of life

About

About This Condition

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

Symptoms

Urinary leakage during exercise, or when coughing, sneezing, or laughing, is the common feature of stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is characterized by a sudden need to urinate, followed by a strong contraction of the bladder, resulting in involuntary leakage of urine. Urge incontinence can also be associated with the need to urinate frequently during the day and night.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Smoking increases the risk of urinary incontinence in women and men according to some,3 , 4 though not all,5 studies. Whether stopping smoking might reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence has not been investigated.Exercise can increase episodes of stress incontinence in the short term,6 but regular physical activity is associated with lower risk of urinary incontinence middle-aged and older women,7[6] and in men following prostate surgery.8 Some of the benefit of regular exercise may be to prevent weight gain, since overweight and obesity increase the risk of urinary incontinence.9 Weight loss programs, most of which included regular exercise, have been shown to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for women with urinary incontinence in several controlled trials.10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14

Eating Right

The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.

Recommendation Why
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. 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. Risk of stress incontinence in women has been linked with higher intake of carbonated drinks and fat, and lower consumption of bread.

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. A controlled trial found that restricting caffeine to less than 100 mg per day reduced some symptoms of urinary incontinence. 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. Other studies have not found a significant effect of changing either caffeine or fluid intake.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?
Supplement Why
3 Stars
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. This confirmed an earlier double-blind study showing that a similar amount of magnesium reduced symptoms of urge incontinence.
2 Stars
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. However, a small, double-blind trial found improvement in only one of several measures of urge incontinence. More double blind trials are needed to confirm these findings.
2 Stars
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. One preliminary study, but not others, 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.
1 Star
Vitamin D
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. Higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with lower risk of urinary incontinence in women, according to one preliminary study. Controlled trials are needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements can help prevent or treat urinary incontinence.

References

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.