We get it -- Urinary incontinence isn’t something that comes up in regular conversation except possibly among your closest friends or with your doctor.
It’s not really a great icebreaker around the water cooler or at a social event. While it may be embarrassing, it’s not uncommon. According to the Urology Care Foundation, urinary incontinence affects nearly half of the female population and a quarter of the male population in America!
Millions of Americans suffer from this condition. As I sit here writing this article, I feel the sudden need to go pee.
Fortunately, several natural treatments exist for different types of incontinence, allowing you to experience relief with small changes.
Urinary Incontinence: Why?
When everything down there is working properly, special nerves alert us when it’s time to go to the restroom and urinate. We can hold our urine for some time depending on when we’re able to get to the restroom. Relieving ourselves happens when muscle contracts, opening the flow of urine through the urethra.
This muscle, the urethral sphincter muscle, contracts again to close the exit for your urine. It’s a system, similar to the other systems our bodies use to function properly. If you suffer from urinary incontinence some parts of this system fail to function properly.
Urinary incontinence itself is not a disease but a symptom of several different health issues to discuss with your physician.
Certain medications, for example, may contribute to incontinence. Diseases and conditions such as stroke, diabetes, menopause, and enlarged prostates are among the causes of incontinence among men and women.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence isn’t one size fits all; people suffer from various types of the condition.
1. Stress incontinence ranks among the most common types.
With stress incontinence, specific muscles in your pelvis have weakened over time, making them unable to fully support your bladder or urethra. Stress incontinence often manifests itself after actions that put pressure on your bladder: laughing, lifting something heavy, bending over, or even sneezing. This type of incontinence occurs when you’re active.
2. Overflow incontinence occurs when your bladder cannot empty causing it to overflow and leak.
These leaks often appear as small dribbles of urine almost constantly happening throughout the day. This type of incontinence affects men more than women, although it is not void in women. Certain health conditions create a higher probability for overflow incontinence including diabetes, an underactive bladder, or various neurological disorders. Men with prostate issues are more likely to experience overflow incontinence.
3. Incontinence that displays itself as urgent sensations to relieve yourself may be a symptom of overactive bladder syndrome (OAB).
People experiencing OAB find themselves needing to relieve themselves several times a day and often throughout the night.
Diagnosis and Treatment: What are Your Options?
First and foremost - when experiencing urinary incontinence, speak with your primary care physician about your symptoms. Women may also speak with their OB/GYN regarding the situation. According to the Office of Women’s Health, many dealing with this uncomfortable reality, your primary physician may refer you to either a urologist or urogynecologist and, in some cases, a pelvic floor specialist.
Small lifestyle and diet changes often help treat urinary incontinence on their own.
Here are some natural ways that women report has helped them manage incontinence:
- Drink Water - drinking caffeinated, carbonated, or alcoholic drinks may worsen incontinence; consider cutting these out of your diet or at least reducing your consumption.
- Check the Scale - Losing weight may also help treat your incontinence; extra weight puts extra stress on your bladder and pelvic muscles.
- Eat an apple a day (seriously) - If constipation is a contributing factor to your incontinence, add more fiber to your diet to help regulate your stool and relieve constipation.
Your doctor may recommend several techniques to try at home before discussing further treatment. It may sound odd, but bladder training is a common at-home and natural treatment for incontinence. And something we love to write about at Bearberry!
Training your bladder sometimes involves going to the restroom at certain times per day - such as every two or four hours instead of when you feel the need - or attempting to hold your urine for 10 minutes after you first feel the urge.
Most cases of incontinence will begin with at-home treatments and activities to improve the function of your bladder and associated muscles. Pelvic floor exercises help you strengthen the muscles in your pelvis which hold your bladder.
To perform Kegels, the Mayo Clinic recommends tightening the muscles you use to stop urinating and hold for five seconds, relax for five seconds, and repeat for 10 repetitions three times per day. Slowly work up to holding for 10 seconds.
Conclusion - Urinary Incontinence Doesn't Have to Win!
Urinary incontinence isn’t the end of the world, although the embarrassment and discomfort it causes can create stressful day-to-day situations. We are dedicated here at Bearberry to find you the best at-home treatments to alleviate your symptoms so you can get back to enjoying your life - instead of always looking for the restroom!