Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem — especially as people age. UI is essentially a loss of bladder control. It can range in severity from the occasional leak of urine when sneezing to having a sudden and dire urge to urinate that acts before you can reach a bathroom.
While UI is more common as people age, it does not affect all aging individuals. Similarly, many people affected by UI can treat symptoms and retrain their bladder with simple lifestyle changes or medical care.
Keep reading to learn about both natural and medical remedies for urinary incontinence.
Solutions for Urinary Incontinence (UI)
There are several treatments for UI and methods for managing the symptoms today. The right solution for you will depend on the severity, type of bladder control problem, and your lifestyle.
The simplest solutions are, more often than not, the natural solutions – even to urinary incontinence. This is because these solutions focus on lifestyle changes rather than introducing medications or trauma (like surgery) to your body. Some natural remedies can be very effective to managing and treating urinary incontinence.
As mentioned, typically, the easiest treatment options or natural remedies to start with for urinary incontinence are simple changes to your lifestyle.
Some changes that can treat UI include:
- Avoiding bladder irritants, including alcohol, caffeine, and acidic foods.
- Drinking enough water throughout the day
- Avoiding too much liquid before strenuous activities or before sleeping.
- Maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight.
- Eating more fiber to prevent constipation.
- Not smoking or getting help to quit smoking.
- Avoiding actions that tense a lot of muscles, like lifting heavy objects.
- Using pads or absorbent undergarments in the case of leakage.
Bladder Control Training
There are many bladder training techniques that can help improve bladder control. Here is an example of a typical bladder control training progression.
- Keeping a bladder diary — this is typically the first step for any type of bladder control training, as it helps establish a baseline. You will record when you urinate, how much you urinate, the severity of the urge, and what you ate/drank throughout the day to establish this baseline.
- Using scheduled bathroom breaks — using your bladder diary to determine how often you urinate (on average), you will now add 15 minutes to this interval. Use the restroom at this appointed time whether or not you need to. You will then gradually increase the intervals between urination until you can hold it for several hours without experiencing leaks or feeling an urge.
- Practicing delayed urination — this technique relies on waiting a few minutes every time you feel the urge to urinate. You will begin with a small delay (5 to 10 minutes) and increase this delay over time.
You should perform these bladder control training techniques with the supervision and assistance of a healthcare professional.
Pelvic Muscle Strengthening
Another common solution that can help manage urinary incontinence is pelvic muscle exercises — also called Kegel exercises. These strengthen the muscles around your bladder to help you avoid leaks and better hold urine in your bladder.
It is typically best to check with your healthcare provider before beginning these exercises, as it can be challenging to ensure you are doing them correctly. The goal is to tense only your pelvic floor muscles. If you tense other muscles simultaneously, you may put pressure on your bladder and increase the likelihood of leaking.
Medical Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
If none of the aforementioned solutions have worked for you, you may consider medical solutions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence. These include:
- Medical devices, such as a catheter, urethral insert, or vaginal pessary ring
- Bulking agents
- Electrical nerve stimulation to help control urination and reflexes
- Surgery to reposition the bladder or remove a blockage
In general, it is always best to start with the simplest solutions for urinary incontinence and only move on to more complex solutions if the simple solutions are not working. You may also find that combining solutions is the best way to regain bladder control.
Remember that it is always best to contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing urinary incontinence or other bladder control problems, as they will be most well-equipped to help you find the right solution for your individual needs.