Today we will be talking about an issue that many women of all ages may have to face.
In fact, 25 to 45 percent of women will experience this in their lifetimes.
Urinary incontinence can be a problem for anyone, however, women are twice as likely to deal with bladder leaks.
As a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga I have treated this issue many times before and would like to share my knowledge about preventative measures as well as possible treatments.
Let’s explore some facts and clear up some of the of the questions you may have.
What Is The Urinary System?
The urinary system is a team of organs that work together to filter blood and take waste out of the body.
First, the kidneys.
Located just beneath the ribs, your kidneys are two bean shaped organs that filter 120 to 150 quarts of blood each day.
They’re working at all times to make sure any toxins or waste are properly expelled from the body.
One of the byproducts of this process is 1 – 2 quarts of urine each day, if you’re staying hydrated.
Next, the ureters, two thin tubes of muscle, carry urine from the kidneys and deposit it into the bladder.
Once in the bladder, urine will build up until it approaches full capacity.
From there, your bladder sends a signal to your brain telling you that urination must occur soon.
The muscles of this balloon like organ remain relaxed while it fills up and expands to hold up to 2 cups of liquid.
Once the time for urination arrives, urine leaves your bladder through your urethra.
Three different muscles aid in this exit through the urethra, the first being the internal sphincter, located where the bladder attaches to the urethra and along its walls.
Outside of this is the external sphincter, and the pelvic floor muscles which work together to support the urethra.
For urination to occur your bladder walls will tighten, while the sphincters and muscles will relax, allowing urine to flow through the urethra.
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
There are a few different types of urinary incontinence (UI) and they all have varying causes and outcomes.
Stress incontinence is a result of movements or physical change putting pressure on the bladder.
Coughing, sneezing, laughing, physical activity, physical changes (such as pregnancy and childbirth), weakening of pelvic floor muscles, or weakening of the urethra walls are all common stress incontinence causes and can result in urine leaking during moments of physical stress.
Urgency incontinence occurs when a person strongly or urgently feels the need to urinate.
The cause is involuntary bladder contraction and can be triggered by abnormal nerve signals, drinking water, touching water, hearing water, being in a cold environment, anxiety, medications or certain medical conditions.
This leads to what’s known as an overreactive bladder.
What happens is your body will signal your bladder to squeeze without giving enough time to go to a toilet.
Mixed incontinence is when both stress and urgency incontinence are combined.
There are also other types of incontinence such as functional incontinence which is a result of a physical disability, external obstacles, mental impairment or communication issues.
Alzheimer’s or arthritis are two examples of conditions that can lead to functional incontinence.
Overflow incontinence is when the bladder improperly empties, and is caused by weakened bladder muscles, or a blocked urethra.
These can be the results of nerve damage from diabetes, tumours, urinary stones, or other diseases.
However this type of UI is less common in women.
Lastly there is transient incontinence, which is a form of UI that last for only a short time and is caused by medication, diet, or a temporary condition.
This can be anything from caffeine or alcohol consumption to a urinary tract infection or many other short term afflictions.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
There can be many different causes of urinary incontinence which can cause improper functioning in different parts of the urinary tract.
Anything from a brain signal not functioning properly, to damage of the muscles or nerves, or too much or too little contraction in the bladder or urethra can be the culprit.
Age can also play a role as well; 7-37 % of women aged 20 to 39 will experience UI, while 9-39% or women experience daily UI.
Risk Factors For Urinary Incontinence
There are some factors from birth that may increase your chance of experiencing a UI such as other women in your family genetics having UI, birth defects, or if you are a caucasian woman.
There are also many conditions that may raise the chances of experiencing a UI, and while UI is not a disease, it can be a symptom of another affliction or event in a woman’s life.
Some common experiences that may lead to UI include:
• Urinary tract infections (UTI)
• Chronic coughing
• Restricted mobility
• Neurological disorders
• Physical inactivity
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Parkinson’s disease
• Pelvic organ prolapse
• Poor diet
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
Now that we have a better understanding of what urinary incontinence is, next week we’ll talk about some naturopathic treatment options that may work for you.
If you believe you may be suffering from urinary incontinence, though, don’t wait until next week to finish this series.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic today to book a FREE 15-minute consultation with me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi.
During that consultation, we’ll sit down and discuss your health concerns.
From there, I’ll answer any questions you may have about naturopathic medicine, and then we can talk about some treatment options that may work for you.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic today.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.