You are driving to the cottage to join your family and you suddenly get astrong urge to empty your bladder. It’s unbearable trying to hold it in to make it to the next exit. You wonder how long it will take to just find a washroom once you are off the highway.

Men and women can suffer from urinary incontinence or an uncontrollable bladder of one kind or another. For women, it often relates to overactive bladder or pelvic muscles, or can be due to a urinary tract infection. About one in three women over 30 years of age have experienced loss of bladder control at some point in their adult lives. For men, it often relates to the enlargement of the prostate gland, which occurs in 50% of men over age 50, and in 90% of men over age 60. Here are my five naturopathic tips for better bladder control and good bladder health.

1. Avoid Bladder Irritants

Some foods and beverages can trigger frequent urination, or bladder irritation. The most common ones include caffeine, alcohol, acid-containing fruits (eg: orange, lemon, tomato), black pepper, highly spiced foods, and dairy. Try avoiding these or other suspected foods for two weeks and see if your symptoms improve. Also, make sure you drink sufficient water to dilute your urine, since concentrated urine can irritate and trigger your bladder muscles to promote premature urination.

2. Reduce the Chance of Developing Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

When you have painful, burning, and urgent urination, you likely have a UTI. To reduce the chance of developing UTIs, drink sufficient fluids, avoid bathing using irritant-containing bubble-baths and perfumed soaps, excessive use of antibiotics, and be sure to empty your bladder after intercourse. Unsweetened cranberry juice and supplements can also reduce the chances of developing urinary infections.

3. Use Herbal Tonics

As a naturopathic doctor, I have found that many herbs can really help restore urinary functions and an uncontrollable bladder. For instance, goldenrod and buchu help soothe bladder and urinary irritations, and nettle has anti-inflammatory effects with tonic properties that can help clear residual urine from the bladder. Seek the help of a trained naturopathic doctor or herbalist for more help in obtaining good bladder health.

4. Strengthen Bladder and Pelvic Muscles

Kegel exercises can really help strengthen the muscles that can get weak due to hormonal changes (in women and men), and those related to pregnancy for women. Simply contract and hold the muscles that you would normally use to hold in your urine for three seconds, then release and repeat ten times, twice a day. After about a week or two, you should notice some improvement in your bladder control. Registered physiotherapists can also help with assessing and treating specific pelvic muscles that are weak.

5. Address Hormone Deficiencies

As you get older, your hormone levels shift. For men, your testosterone levels decline. For women, your estrogen and progesterone levels decline. These hormones can have structural implications that relate to bladder capacity and function. Visit your doctor if you want to evaluate the role of hormone therapy in relation to your urinary and bladder health. Some herbal medicines are also helpful for balancing the effects of hormonal changes that occur with aging.

About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.