True statements we’ve heard from women describing their bladder leaking include “leaky, wet, saturated, slippy & sloppy” or “I don’t have incontinence, I have leaking”, “Something is happening down there”, “I feel like a piñata is hanging down there” and “I wouldn't look down there if I were you!” Let’s be real here…this is NOT how you should be feeling about yourself!
Urinary incontinence can greatly interfere with your quality of life. It’s also extremely common, with as many as one in three women experiencing at least one type of incontinence. Unfortunately, many women who experience it are reluctant to bring it up with their healthcare practitioner - by some estimates only 40% raise the issue.
Incontinence can greatly impact mental health. Not only is it inconvenient and sometimes even embarrassing, but the stigma can contribute to depression. One study found that seniors with incontinence are twice as likely to feel depressed. At any age, many people with incontinence report that their intimate relationships are affected, and the most common diagnosis to cause social isolation. In addition,incontinence can lead to physical health issues, including urinary tract infections, skin infections, and even kidney damage. As well, frequent incontinence should be investigated, since it can indicate underlying health issues.
It’s a shame, because there are many ways to prevent or reduce the impact of urinary incontinence with many non-surgical care options available. Let’s take a closer look at urinary incontinence, getting right to the root causes and best treatments.
“The bottom line is, if this is something that is stopping you from doing things you love, then it’s time to get to the root cause, make a change and resolve the issue!” - Rachael Cabreira
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
In its most simple definition, urinary incontinence happens when you lose control of your bladder, however, there is a wide range of experiences, including:
Stress incontinence which is triggered by activities like jumping, laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting something heavy. Even the act of standing up can be a trigger. The amount of urine can vary from just a few drops to completely emptying the bladder. Stress incontinence can be unpredictable, which makes it tricky to manage. Sometimes, an activity may be perfectly safe, while other times that same activity can trigger incontinence.
Urge incontinence happens when you have an overwhelming urge to pee, and need a bathroom immediately. It can also lead you to urinate often, particularly at night.
Overflow incontinence is when your bladder isn’t emptied completely, leading to “dribbling” of the remaining urine.
Functional incontinence is the result of physical conditions, such as injuries, cognitive issues such as dementia, or neurological issues like the aftereffects of a stroke.
A person can also have mixed incontinence, in which two factors are present, often both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Did you know: The average cost per pad is $0.75 cents! Paying to leak is no fun!
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
Incontinence is much more common in women, in part because they face more triggering events like pregnancy and childbirth, and hormonal changes, especially through perimenopause through post-menopause. Anatomical differences also play a role, particularly as women age and lose muscle tone in the pelvic floor.
Other risk factors include:
Age: Urinary issues are the most common reported problem among seniors, and incontinence affects as many as one in three nursing home residents. That’s because as we age, the muscles controlling urination weaken, and the lining of the bladder loses elasticity. As well, medical conditions that affect nerve function are more common with age, as are mobility issues like arthritis.
Myth: Incontinence is not age specific
FACT: It is what your body has been through
Extra pounds: Carrying extra weight, particularly around the midsection, puts extra pressure on the bladder.
Smoking: Tobacco is a bladder irritant, and the chronic cough common among smokers can trigger bladder leaks.
Medical conditions: Many medical conditions can lead to incontinence, including multiple sclerosis, parkinsons, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, constipation, kidney stones, or a urinary tract infection. Sudden or increased incontinence can also be a warning sign of a medical condition. Diabetes and prostate cancer, for example, can lead to increased or uncontrollable urination.
Menopause: nearly 100% of women will experience some level of vaginal dryness throughout their lifespan, pre and post menopause included, which can increase risk for bladder control issues. If you are entering menopause, let us help you with a proper hormone and vaginal health check!
How Can I Prevent Incontinence?
Luckily there are many ways to prevent and naturally help treat urinary incontinence. Let’s take a look at a few.
Remember: 80% of the symptoms of urinary incontinence are resolvable with holistic, integrative non-surgical options and we are here to help!
Maintain a healthy weight.
A reduction of just 5% of your body weight can reduce the number of incidences of incontinence you experience. Of course, this is easier said than done. If weight is something you want to address, don’t hesitate to work with us to put together a realistic plan for healthy weight loss.
Strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
Your pelvic floor is composed of muscles and ligaments, and those muscles can be strengthened just like any others. Exercises like Kegels and certain yoga postures can help improve the tone of the pelvic floor, resulting in increased bladder control. Pelvic floor physical therapy also helps many women regain control of their bladder. Pelvic floor assessment and therapy is available at Innovative Wellness, schedule your consultation here
Avoid bladder irritants.
Certain foods can irritate your bladder, including citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes, and cranberries. Avoid artificial sweeteners, and focus on whole foods, and high-fiber foods. Other bladder irritants include alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, milk, corn syrup, spicy foods and vinegar.
Don’t be afraid to drink water! It might be tempting to cut down on fluid consumption, but dehydration can actually lead to incontinence because it can irritate the urinary tract. That said, it’s wise to avoid drinking liquids two or three hours before going to bed, and to avoid carbonated beverages, caffeine, and alcohol.
Train your bladder.
Often, people with incontinence visit the washroom frequently to avoid having an accident. This, however, can actually have the opposite effect, since the bladder becomes accustomed to holding only small amounts of urine. Bladder retaining helps the bladder adjust to holding larger amounts. The central principle of bladder retraining is to use a set schedule, gradually extending the time between emptying your bladder.
Choose intimate skin care products carefully.
For women in particular, skin care and bath products can irritate the urinary tract, and lead to incontinence, so take a careful look at ingredients and choose the most natural products possible. Fulfillene is a therapeutic and restorative lotion excellent for preserving and protecting intimate skin health.
Holistic Treatments at Innovative Wellness
At Innovative Wellness, we are here to support you and come up with a multi faceted treatment plan to get you back to your healthy vibrant self. We hear stories from women every day who are feeling hopeless, frustrated and out of options dealing with their urinary incontinence. Over the years, we have become known as a destination to hear your story and treat the root cause to optimize quality of life!
For urinary incontinence we have several holistic treatment options including Percutaneous Tibial Nerve Stimulation, the O-shot, Cliovana, hormone therapy, behavioral modification support as well as medicated and non-medicated treatment options.
Don’t let incontinence interfere with your quality of life. Schedule a consultation today!
Luber KM. The definition, prevalence, and risk factors for stress urinary incontinence. Rev Urol. 2004;6 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S3-S9.
Shah D, Badlani G. Treatment of overactive bladder and incontinence in the elderly. Rev Urol. 2002;4 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):S38-S43.
Wing RR, Creasman JM, West DS, et al. Improving urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women through modest weight loss. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;116(2 Pt 1):284-292. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e8fb60
Ko Y, Lin SJ, Salmon JW, Bron MS. The impact of urinary incontinence on quality of life of the elderly. Am J Manag Care. 2005 Jul;11(4 Suppl):S103-11. PMID: 16161383.