Do you get a sudden and uncomfortable urge to urinate throughout the day? Does your bladder wake you up at night? Do you find it hard to control your urge to go? Perhaps you even have unpleasant accidents, losing a small amount of urine because you couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time… These are all tell-tale signs of overactive bladder (OAB), which is the sudden and unstoppable need to urinate. Also known as urge incontinence, it is not a disease, really, but an indication of a problem. The sudden and often uncontrollable urge to urinate is caused by abnormal bladder muscle contractions, even when your bladder is not full yet.
The problem of overactive bladder is often addressed via lifestyle modifications, such as diet and bladder training. There is also a form of therapy proven to yield promising results to OAB sufferers without the use of medication or invasive surgery.
Meditate to manage your overactive bladder
According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Chicago, cognitive therapy is an effective approach to managing overactive bladder. The study was conducted by the doctors at Loyola University Health System (LUHS), who were exploring the use of deep breathing techniques and guided imagery exercises as an alternative treatment method for urge incontinence.
The clinical trial involved 10 patients with a mean age of 62. To qualify for participation, they had to have an overactive bladder diagnosis and be stable on all OAB treatments for the three months prior to the study. At the start of the study, all participants attended an introductory session to get familiar with cognitive therapy. Then, they had to listen to a recording of relaxation and visualization exercises twice a week for two weeks in the comfort of their home. They had to keep track of their incontinence episodes before and after the therapy using a diary. (If you don’t do something about your bladder problem now, it’ll only get worse.)
The results of the study were quite impressive. Among the participants, the average number of urge incontinence episodes dropped from 38 to 12 a week. The majority of patients reported a significant improvement in their symptoms. They admit that the therapy has enabled them to understand the connection between the brain and the bladder and to manage their incontinence as a result.
“The mind-body connection has proven to be particularly valuable for women suffering from incontinence… Cognitive therapy is effective with these women, because they are motivated to make a change and regain control over their body,” explained Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, study investigator. (If your bladder controls you, it’s time to take back your life.)
Cognitive therapy is a great treatment option for a variety of reasons. It’s not invasive, it does not involve any medications (which is particularly important in cases of people who are taking multiple prescription drugs for other conditions), and it can be done at home. Especially in cases of mild or moderate urge incontinence, training your bladder through meditation should be helpful and effective. For best results, avoid dietary triggers like acidic foods, alcohol, and coffee, and amp up your fiber intake to prevent constipation, a known contributor to urinary urgency issues.
Related: Incontinence products and natural tips to manage urinary incontinence