In my clinical acupuncture practice, I’ve had several clients come to me looking for a natural urinary incontinence treatment. Sometimes it is a problem on its own, while other times, it is tied to other conditions, such as MS, Parkinson’s, diabetes, bladder infections or stones, or stroke. Regardless of the cause, I have seen success using acupuncture for urinary incontinence.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
Overactive bladder gives the feeling of an urgent need to use the restroom. The muscles around the bladder can spasm, causing sufferers to get up multiple times per night. Stress incontinence is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles and results in bladder leaks.
Women are more likely to experience incontinence than men, and pressure on the bladder (stress) or damage to the nerves or muscles around the bladder (overactive bladder) are the most culprits. For women, this could be due to pregnancy and childbirth, and in both genders, surgery, medication, disease, and being overweight can also lead to urinary incontinence.
Urinary Incontinence Treatment
Most treatment options include using medication that helps reduce muscle spasms around the bladder. Unfortunately, whenever medications are used, there are side effects that some patients find more troubling than the problem they seek to solve. Other treatments include exercises and/or medical devices designed to strengthen the pelvic floor.
One study of incontinent women tested the results of acupuncture as a natural treatment option. The conclusion was that after a 4-week urinary incontinence, bladder-focused acupuncture protocol, nearly 90% of patients had “significant improvements in bladder capacity, urgency,frequency, and quality-of-life scores”. Source: Acupuncture for Overactive Bladder
Acupuncture works with your body to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation, pain, and muscle spasm, all important in overcoming urinary incontinence.
I currently treat a patient who suffered from excessive, hurried night time urination. As a senior, she really struggled with getting out of bed and to the bathroom in time. This created embarrassing accidents and put her at a greater risk for falling (and resulting injuries). I see her from time to time for treatments on a variety of concerns, but after just a single course of bladder focused treatment, she was able to sleep an entire night without an emergency bathroom trip. This increased her sleep quality and reduced her need to urinate more than one or two times a night, and without excessive urgency. This was genuinely life changing for her.
Dr. Mark VanOtterloo is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine, located in Lakewood, Colorado. He is an integrative, functional medicine practitioner specializing in chronic disease and women’s health, using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in a mainstream medical model.
To learn more about using acupuncture for urinary incontinence treatment, contact Dr. Mark VanOtterloo for an appointment or free consultation.
Chung I-M, Kim Y-S, Sung Y-H, et al. Effects of acupuncture on abdominal leak point pressure and c-Fos expression in the brain of rats with stress urinary incontinence. Neuroscience Letters. 2008;439(1):18-23.doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2008.04.100. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304394008006046
Emmons SL, Otto L. Acupuncture for Overactive Bladder. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2005;106(1):138-143. doi:10.1097/01.aog.0000163258.57895.ec. https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2005/07000/Acupuncture_for_Overactive_Bladder__A_Randomized.23.aspx