Today, I want to discuss urinary incontinence, otherwise known as leaky bladder. It affects about 20 million Americans, and it is estimated that it affects 200 million people globally. This could very well be one of the most common health conditions that is rarely spoken about because of the shame and embarrassment. While urinary incontinence is extremely common, there are natural solutions for it, and it’s essential to stay positive, hopeful, and envision a better future.
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence refers to the loss of bladder control. The symptoms range from leaking urine to uncontrollable wetting. Incontinence often occurs when you have weak pelvic floor muscles, causing urine to leak when you sneeze or laugh. There are several kinds of urinary incontinence, and symptoms and treatments may vary slightly for each.
The 5 Types Of Urinary Incontinence:
#1: Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence is the one of the most common types of incontinence. Stress incontinence is when you accidentally leak urine when pressure is put on your bladder due to things such as laughing, sneezing, coughing, jumping, or lifting something heavy. It is usually due to weak pelvic floor muscles that is often linked to having had children (especially occurring postpartum), menopause, and in some cases, excess weight. This type of incontinence is extremely common and it’s estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience this at some point in her life. The main way to resolve this issue is to strengthen the pelvic floor through kegel exercises, physical therapy, and believe it or not, even belly dancing!
#2: Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is also called an overactive bladder and is characterized by an urgent need to urinate even when the bladder isn’t full. This urgency can cause a loss of urine before making it to the toilet. If you have urge incontinence you also might have the need to urinate more frequently. Even if you don’t accidently leak urine, the frequency and urgency can interfere with daily activities because of the constant need to go to the toilet. Urge incontinence can be caused by many factors, including getting older, neurological conditions, stress, and stimulating drinks like tea, coffee and alcohol. It can also be caused by poor bladder habits like going to the toilet even when the bladder isn’t full. A bladder training program and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can ease the occurrence and severity of urge incontinence.
#3: Overflow Incontinence
Overflow Incontinence or post-void dribbling refers to when your bladder becomes too full. You think you’ve emptied it, but as you stand up, you’ve leaked some urine. You didn’t realize that your bladder wasn’t empty yet. This type of incontinence is common in people with diabetes
#4: Functional Incontinence
Physical or mental stress can hinder how fast you make it to the toilet. If you have arthritis or a disability, it makes getting to the bathroom difficult.
Nocturia is the urge to pee that in the middle of the night, but sometimes you don’t even really have to go after you woke up and tried to empty your bladder.
Risk Factors For Urinary Incontinence:
- Being Female
- Being Overweight. Having extra pressure on your bladder weakens your pelvic floor
- Family history of urge incontinence
- Other conditions like diabetes
Natural Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence:
- Pelvic Floor Strengthening Exercises– There are many ways to strengthen your pelvic floor. Probably the most common that almost every woman knows is Kegel exercises. However, some great alternatives are belly dance (which is such a fun way to strengthen your pelvic floor!) and seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist.
- Diet Changes-Consider eliminating certain foods that irritate your bladder, such as tomatoes, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine.
- Retrain your bladder-Retrain your bladder by delaying urination by 10 minutes when you feel the urgency and work your way up to 2-hour intervals.