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The bladder is a muscular organ that stores the urine produced by the kidney. Urinary continence is maintained by the bladder neck, the pelvic floor muscles and the external urethral sphincter (1).

A healthy bladder can store up to 700 ml of urine. The bladder expands when filled, and at volumes of 250ml to 300 ml, signals are sent to the brain to trigger the urge to urinate (2). In releasing urine, the muscles of the bladder walls contract to push the urine out and the sphincter muscles which are on the neck of the bladder relax allowing the urine to flow out (2).

The process of being in control of the bladder and voluntary voiding involves muscles and nerves that send signals to the brain (2). This process is important for daily, healthy functioning; the process is learned and developed in early childhood.

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary or abnormal voiding of urine, as well as having problems storing the urine in the bladder. It is caused by abnormalities in the anatomy or functioning of the bladder and/or urethra (3).


  • Diabetes (4,5,6)
  • Old age (7,8,9)
  • Obesity (10,11,12)
  • Post-menopausal therapy and contraceptives (13)
  • Caucasian ethnicity (14,15,16)
  • Smoking (16,17)
  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or stroke (18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26)


Urinary incontinence is categorized based on the cause of the problem (3).

Urge Urinary Incontinence

  • Associated with hyperactivity of the bladder
  • Symptoms include involuntary urine leakage due to frequent, sudden and intense urges to urinate (3,7)

Stress Urinary Incontinence

  • Associated with reduced functioning of the urethra
  • Symptoms include involuntary urine leakage due to exerted effort such as laughing, sneezing or coughing (3,7)

Overflow Incontinence

  • Associated with high urethral activity and low bladder activity
  • Symptoms include involuntary urine leakage due to incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Occurs more often in men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (3,7)

The symptoms of urinary incontinence vary on the severity of the condition. For example, if it is mild to moderate, urine leakage could range from a couple drops occasionally, as compared to severe cases of complete bladder emptying on a daily basis (27).

For more information on prostate problems and diagnosis:  1. Talk to your doctor  2. Visit the Mayo Clinic website 3. Visit the Urology Care Foundation website


In the United States, 2017 estimates show that 25 million adults suffer from some form of urinary incontinence (28).

In 2010, estimates showed that women experienced urinary incontinence almost twice as much as men. Up to 37% of women between the ages of 20 to 39 years report some incontinence, while up to 39% of women over the age of 60 report experiences of daily incontinence (29).


The first line of pharmacological treatments of choice for urinary incontinence are anticholinergic or antimuscarinic medications. These drugs work by blocking the muscarinic receptors on the detrusor muscle to control its contraction (30,31). Some of these antimuscarinic medications include:

  • Oxybutynin – marketed as Lyrinel and Ditropan (32)
  • Tolterodine – marketed as Detrol (33)
  • Trospium – marketed as Sanctura (34)
  • Fesoterodine –marketed as Tovia (35)
  • Darifenacin – marketed as Enablex (36)
  • Solifenacin – marketed as Vesicare (37)

Common side effects of these medications include: headache, dizziness, dry mouth, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, visual and audio hallucinations, blurred vision, drowsiness, change in urination habits, painful urination, and swelling in hands, chest, and face (33,34,35,36,37)


Practices to Support a Healthy Urinary Tract:

  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • Bladder training
  • Voiding logs
  • Habit retraining (7,38,39)
  • Refrain from smoking cigarettes
  • Alter diets to reduce carbohydrate intake
  • Increase physical activity (10,11,12,16,17)

Natural Supplements That Support a Healthy Urinary Tract:


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