Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary and unintentional accident leakage of urine. It's not a normal part of aging, but rather a pathologic symptom of an underlying disorder. At different ages, males and females have different risks for developing UI. In childhood, girls usually develop bladder control at an earlier age than boy.  However, adult women are far more likely than adult men to experience UI. Sadly, only one incontinent individual in five will consult a health care provider, and sadly, when they do, less than one in three of us will initiate even the most rudimentary evaluation .

Incontinence is due to one or more of the "established" causes. Stress incontinence causes urine to leak when you laugh or cough. Overactive bladder (OAB), or urge incontinence, is caused by urinary muscle spasms. Multiple pregnancies, being overweight, and genetic weaknesses can increase the risk.  The causes can be divided into four basic groups. First, the bladder may contract when it should not, escaping the individual's control, as overactive detrusor, the common cause of incontinence in elderly women. Second, the bladder may not contract when it should, leading to progressive retention of urine until it eventually spills over. This is known as detrusor underactivity. Third, the outlet may be open when it should be closed, leading to a condition known as stress incontinence.  Finally, the outlet may be closed when it should be open. This leads to retention of urine until spill-over occurs and results in overflow incontinence. These are the four basic categories of established incontinence.  Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in American men.  Surgery of prostate cancer may lead to side effects such as frequent and nighttime urination, incontinence, and erectile dysfunction.  

In Chinese Medicine, the bladder function is related to the functions of the kidney that is more complicated than the function of kidney in Western Medicine. The kidney function can be described in terms of Yin and Yang.  The ability for the bladder to sufficiently hold urine is a Yin function.  When there is deficiency of kidney yin, the bladder cannot hold urine and may result in stress and urge incontinence.  Other symptoms of kidney Yin deficiency are night sweats, red face, thirst, frequent nighttime urination.   The ability to smoothly urinate is a Yang function.  When there is deficiency of kidney Yang, the bladder cannot properly control the opening and closing of the urethra, which can lead to inhibited urination.   A problem with kidney Yang may lead to overflow incontinence, which is described as difficulty in starting urinating and then there is dribbling after it begins.  Other signs of Yang deficiency are a feeling of cold in the body, fatigue, impotence and poor libido. Just as it is common to have many types of incontinence at the same time, it is also common that there is double deficiency of kidney Yin and Yang.  

But there is more good news, acupuncture can effectively reduce these symptoms of incontinence and improve the quality of life. Acupuncture treatment intends to resolve the root of the problem by promoting self-healing mechanism through correct the kidney Yin and Yang deficiency.  Theoretically, we still have no enough understanding of kidney Yin and Yang, but this theory guide our daily clinical practice to help most of our patients. More than 70% of patients experience significant improvement with acupuncture treatments.