Incontinence

Urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine, can erode your self-confidence and curb your lifestyle.

Worrying whether or not you may lose control over your bladder takes away the joy from simple everyday activities. Many sports become impossible since vigorous movement can cause an embarrassing accident. Wearing bulky absorbent protection is a nuisance. Bedwetting, a problem for adults as well as children, can be the result of incontinence.

Nocturia, a nocturnal urge to urinate, affects many people, taking away the chance of a full night’s sleep. While not strictly classified as incontinence, as you still have control over the bladder, nocturia is most often treated in a similar fashion to incontinence.

Why Me?

  • Stress incontinence, more common to women, is a momentary loss of bladder control when laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, etc. It is thought to be due to a weakness of the pelvic muscles.
  • A urinary tract infection, such as cystitis may cause incontinence. (See Cystitis for treatment.)
  • Constipation involves a build up of hard faeces which may press onto the bladder. Pressure on the bladder causes nerves to be activated, which may result in an urge to urinate. A build up of abdominal gas will do the same. (See Constipation.)
  • An enlarged prostate gland pressing on the bladder may be the culprit (See Prostate, Enlarged.)
  • Ligaments and pelvic muscles become weaker during and after pregnancy, often resulting in urinary incontinence. Another factor is the pressure placed on the bladder by the unborn baby.
  • After a stroke, paralysis of the urinary sphincter may occur.

What To Do

Diet

  • Avoid coffee, cigarettes and spicy foods as these will irritate the bladder.
  • Avoid cow’s milk.
  • No drinking two hours before bed time, except one cup of one of the herbal teas recommended below.
  • No coffee, tea, alcohol as they are diuretic (increase urination).

Herbs and Supplements

  • See Calm.
  • The B complex vitamins are indicated for any nervous problem, including the nerves of the urinary system.
  • The following herbs are recommended for incontinence and can be combined. Drink three cups daily, one after dinner: cinnamon bark, linden flower, cornsilk, horsetail. The herb sweet sumach is specific for bedwetting.
  • Nervous system calming herbs include chamomile, valerian, passion-flower, St John’s wort and oats.
  • The homoeopathic remedy, Causticum (Potency 6 or 30C) will usually help where there is an involuntary loss of urine when coughing or laughing.
  • The tissue salt Calc. fluor. for when there is a frequent urge to urinate.
  • Raspberry leaf in tea or tablet form, is recommended during the latter stages of pregnancy as it helps to strengthen both the uterus and bladder.
  • The Bach flower remedies mimulus and aspen will help dispel night-time fears.

Other Steps

  • Kegel exercises will help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The Kegel exercises are named after a UCLA surgeon, Arnold Kegel. Next time you urinate, try to stop the flow of urine. Your ability to control the flow is an indication of how strong your pelvic muscles are. Once you have mastered the art of contracting these muscles, imagine drawing them slowly upwards, like an elevator. Travel up three floors, stopping at each level, then slowly travel downwards, again stopping at each level. Do five Kegels ten times a day for a total of 50 times. Kegel exercises can be done at any time of the day, anywhere, only you know that you are ‘doing the Kegel’! (Note: It is not recommended to do Kegels while urinating.)
  • If your incontinence or bedwetting is due to worry, fear or fright seek help through counselling or hypnotherapy.
  • A tip if you suffer incontinence is to make sure you urinate frequently. Time yourself or buy a timer to remind yourself to urinate every two hours or so. In this way it is possible to retrain the bladder. If you tend to ‘hold on’ for as long as possible… don’t! Instead of strengthening, it actually strains the bladder. Listen to Nature’s call.

At a glance

Good food
Oats, foods for cystitis.
Food to avoid
Milk, coffee, tea, alcohol.
Remedies to begin
Cornsilk, raspberry leaf, Calc. fluor., B complex.
Lifestyle
Do Kegel exercises, urinate two-hourly.
MindBody
It is possible there is a situation/person of whom you are subconsciously fearful?
Recommended: Calm