Modern medicine can often and effectively address female urinary incontinence issues, with either a combination of behavior modification, medication or surgery, or alone as strategies. Most will have some degree of success, but the proper diagnosis must be made and proper treatment executed.
The rise in popularity of naturopathic treatments for a variety of common health conditions puts the proper pressure on Western medicine to reevaluate what we offer patients, and presents us sometimes with new options.
Urinary incontinence (UI) in women can usually manifest as stress incontinence (urine lost during activities or straining), or urge incontinence (urine lost with an uncontrollable urge). Kegel muscle exercises are the standard first line treatment that can help either type of UI, by either improving muscle tone of the urethra/pelvic floor, or improving the “holding power” of the pelvic floor to inhibit the bladder when the urge comes on.
The way the loss of estrogen with menopause or ovary removal leads to thinning and weakness of the vagina and pelvic floor has been well-studied, but estrogen replacement with pills or creams is not for everyone. Moreover, estrogen replacement does not improve stress incontinence, and may only improve somewhat urge incontinence. Natural estrogen replacement however is something many women will want to do, and I don’t mean taking bio-identical hormones. Phytoestrogens are plant estrogens that are naturally occurring and have estrogen-like effects and may reduce some of the menopausal symptoms women experience. They are found in soy and soy products (soy nuts, soy milk, and tofu). Soy isoflavones which are the components of soy that have the effect can be purchased in capsule form, as well as creams that can be applied to dry vaginal tissue.
Overconsumption of water, or consumption of diuretic medications can overwhelm the bladder and lead to incontinence. Moderation or alteration of these can help. Diuretics are usually given to control blood pressure, so changing to a non-diuretic blood pressure medication is something to discuss with your prescribing physician.