Urinary incontinence, the loss of bladder control, affects more than 200 million people worldwide, but it’s predominately a female problem1Biswas, B., Bhattacharyya, A., Dasgupta, A., Karmakar, A., Mallick, N., & Sembiah, S. (2017). Urinary Incontinence, Its Risk Factors, and Quality of Life: A Study among Women Aged 50 Years and above in a Rural Health Facility of West Bengal. Journal of mid-life health, 8(3), 130–136. https://doi.org/10.4103/jmh.JMH_62_17. Of the 25 million adults in America who suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, 80% of them are women, according to studies2Johns Hopkins Health – Holding Back Incontinence. Hopkinsmedicine.org. (2010). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/johns_hopkins_health/spring_2010/holding_back_incontinence.. And sure, many of us chalk it up as nothing more than “peeing a little” due to pregnancy, childbirth and age3Incontinence During Pregnancy and After Childbirth. WebMD. (2021). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/pregnancy., but it’s an embarrassing problem that is rarely talked about in more detail. This leaves many of us peeing uncontrollably and having no idea why or what to do about it, but that’s about to change. In this article, we cover everything there is to know about the different types of urinary incontinence and the various treatment options available to you, including the natural solutions you can start using to begin the healing process right now.
- What is Urinary Incontinence?
- What Causes Urinary Incontinence for Women?
- Types of Urinary Incontinence
- Risks Factors for Developing Urinary Incontinence in Women
- Tips for Preventing Female Urinary Incontinence
- Common Conventional Treatments For Urinary Incontinence
- Tips for Managing Female Urinary Incontinence
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Put simply, urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. It’s a common problem that affects approximately 200 million worldwide, with many of them being female. Unfortunately, it’s also an embarrassing problem that many people shy away from talking about or seeking treatment for. After all, you don’t want to resort to adult diapers or invasive surgery, but you also don’t want to worry about wetting yourself every time you jump, laugh, run, sneeze or cough. That’s also not to mention that sometimes, urinary incontinence can seemingly come out of nowhere without any of the activities mentioned above. This puts many women in a challenging and uncomfortable position – in more ways than one.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence for Women?
Urinary incontinence can be caused by various things – from everyday habits to underlying health conditions, physical problems and even life’s greatest achievements, such as pregnancy and childbirth. It can also be temporary and caused by certain drinks, foods and medications that stimulate your bladder and increase your volume of urine4Urinary incontinence | Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-incontinence.. Other times, it can seem like there is no rhyme or reason behind your urine leakage. This is why it’s crucial to seek professional advice to receive a proper diagnosis.
However, you can start the process of regaining control of your bladder right now simply by understanding what may be causing it. Once you have determined the potential cause, you can narrow in on the proper treatment needed to address the problem at the root source so you can heal it for good. Some of the more common causes of urine leakage are:
- Temporary triggers
- Carbonated drinks
- Foods high in spice, sugar or acid
- Heart and blood pressure medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Stress factors, such as coughing
- Vitamin C (large doses)
- Treatable medical conditions
- Urinary tract infections
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urine leakage is urine leakage, but there are different types that are usually linked directly to the specific cause you’re dealing with. Understanding this can help you determine what type of treatment is needed or, at the very least, what is the underlying issue that needs to be treated:
- Stress incontinence: urine leakage while coughing, laughing, running, jumping or doing some other type of activity
- Urge incontinence: sudden and intense urge to urinate, as well as urine leaks before and just after using the bathroom
- Overflow incontinence: not being able to empty your bladder completely, resulting in urine leaking
- Total incontinence: the bladder is unable to store urine
- Function incontinence: urine leakage occurs when you can’t reach the bathroom in time (could be due to a mobility issue)
- Mixed incontinence: a combination of different types5Types of urinary incontinence – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. (2014). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/types-of-urinary-incontinence.
Risks Factors for Developing Urinary Incontinence in Women
Suppose you aren’t sure why you’re experiencing a loss of bladder control and don’t identify with any of the potential causes listed above. In that case, you may want to take a look at the risk factors that make someone more likely to develop urinary incontinence. Like the prior, this can help you narrow in on what may be contributing to your urinary incontinence, and the treatment needed moving forward:
Common risk factors for developing urinary incontinence include:
- Neurological disease
- Weight6Urinary incontinence – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier, if you’re pregnant or have given birth, you may be at a higher risk for experiencing urinary incontinence as your pelvic floor muscles have become weakened.
Tips for Preventing Female Urinary Incontinence
Prevention is, arguably, one of the most important factors for treating basically anything. After all, you want to make sure that you have the knowledge needed to prevent the problem from coming back or worsening.
- Avoid things that irritate your bladder, such as alcohol and caffeine
- Eat a diet rich in fiber
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Practice pelvic floor exercises
- Quit smoking
- Keep your pelvic floor muscles strong
Common Conventional Treatments For Urinary Incontinence
Treatment or urinary incontinence largely depends on the type of incontinence you’re experiencing. While medications are commonly prescribed today to treat urinary incontinence, they often come with a long list of potential side effects that can be worse than the symptoms you’re using the medication to treat. In addition, these medications rarely address the problem at the root, so there’s always the potential of it coming back as well. Another common treatment option is to use a medical device (or devices) or to undergo surgery. Some examples of these include urethral inserts, Botox, sacral nerve stimulators, catheters, and radiofrequency therapy7Hersh, L., & Salzman, B. (2013). Clinical Management of Urinary Incontinence in Women. American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/0501/p634.html.. The downside is that these conventional treatments are often invasive and costly in more ways than one.
Tips for Managing Female Urinary Incontinence
Fortunately, there are several natural treatment options and tips you can do to begin healing all forms of urinary incontinence naturally and right in the comfort of your own home. The following tips are designed to help you identify, improve and reverse urine leakage.
- Do daily pelvic floor exercises that help strengthen the muscles that control urination
- Quit smoking to eliminate this risk factor
- Reduce alcohol intake to eliminate this potential trigger
- Complete bladder training exercises, such as delaying the event or having set times for your bathroom breaks to help train the bladder to release only when you want it to
- Treat constipation promptly can eliminate this potential cause
- Cut down on drinks that increase urination, such as coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid unhealthy habits, such as going to the bathroom “just in case”
- Get 30 minutes of exercise in 5 days of the week
- Ditch processed foods
- Eat a clean diet, free of sugary snacks and rich in fruits and vegetables
- Practice yoga to help reduce symptoms by tightening the areas responsible for bladder control (this tip also helps the mental and emotional symptoms that come with urinary incontinence)
- Keep a bladder diary to track how much you drink, when urination occurs, and the number of episodes of incontinence
- Manage your stress with mindful activities, such as meditation
The most important thing to take away from this article about female urinary incontinence is that you aren’t alone, and there are some options that allow you to regain control of your bladder. While conventional treatment options often consist of medical devices, surgery and medications, there are numerous things you can do to begin treating urine leakage naturally. However, it is highly recommended to speak with your healthcare provider to properly diagnose the cause and type of urinary incontinence you’re experiencing.
- 1Biswas, B., Bhattacharyya, A., Dasgupta, A., Karmakar, A., Mallick, N., & Sembiah, S. (2017). Urinary Incontinence, Its Risk Factors, and Quality of Life: A Study among Women Aged 50 Years and above in a Rural Health Facility of West Bengal. Journal of mid-life health, 8(3), 130–136. https://doi.org/10.4103/jmh.JMH_62_17
- 2Johns Hopkins Health – Holding Back Incontinence. Hopkinsmedicine.org. (2010). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/johns_hopkins_health/spring_2010/holding_back_incontinence.
- 3Incontinence During Pregnancy and After Childbirth. WebMD. (2021). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/pregnancy.
- 4Urinary incontinence | Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2019). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-incontinence.
- 5Types of urinary incontinence – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. (2014). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/types-of-urinary-incontinence.
- 6Urinary incontinence – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808.
- 7Hersh, L., & Salzman, B. (2013). Clinical Management of Urinary Incontinence in Women. American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation. Retrieved 15 December 2021, from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/0501/p634.html.