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For words you might want to know more
Overactive bladder, sometimes referred to as OAB, causes a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control. You may feel like you need to go to the loo many times during the day and night, and may also experience involuntary loss of urine (urge incontinence).
This muscle lines your bladder and squeezes to empty it when it’s time to pee.
The internal and external urethral sphincters are rings of muscle that guard the exit of urine from the neck of the bladder and urethra. They contract to stop urine from leaking out, and relax when you go to the bathroom and empty your bladder.
The involuntary leakage of urine caused by a sudden, intense urge to pee.
If you’re living with urinary incontinence or overactive bladder (OAB), you’ll know just how frustrating it can be when your day-to-day is ruled by unwanted leaks and frequent toilet trips.
Poor bladder health can seriously impact a person’s quality of life, but luckily there are several treatments and techniques that can help you manage an overactive bladder — and researchers think that mindfulness may be one of them.
There isn’t that much research on how mindfulness can help with overactive bladder, but promising new evidence suggests that practising meditation could reduce urinary urgency.
So does this mean you can meditate yourself out of incontinence? Let’s have a look at the brain-bladder connection and how mindfulness could help an overactive bladder.
Overactive bladder is a term given to a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control. It’s not a disease in itself but can often manifest alongside other conditions, including incontinence.
When your bladder fills up with urine, the detrusor muscles — which surround the bladder — stretch in order to hold in more liquid. Meanwhile, the urethral sphincters and pelvic floor muscles all contract to stop any pee from leaking.
When your bladder can’t hold any more liquid it tells your brain “hey, it’s time to go!” and stimulates the urge to go to the bathroom. When you decide to empty your bladder, your brain tells your pelvic floor muscles and urethral sphincters to relax, and the detrusor muscle contract so urine can flow out.
This two-way relationship between your bladder and brain is what stops you from peeing yourself even when you really have to go. It’s also what stops you from needing to run to the toilet 20 times a day!
But in an overactive bladder, the muscles in the bladder contract involuntarily — even when your bladder isn’t full — and cause that sudden urge to go to the bathroom. When an overactive bladder causes unwanted leaks, it’s known as urge incontinence.
The specific cause of an overactive bladder is unknown, but it can be a result of neurological conditions, a bladder or urinary tract infection, or lifestyle factors. Overactive bladder can also happen with age.
The complex factors that contribute to OAB can make it difficult to treat, but some experts have found that mindfulness may help.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation practice that helps aims to make you feel more present. It’s a therapy most commonly used to promote mental wellbeing, especially in people with anxiety, but some researchers believe it could help with overactive bladder, too.
Although the relationship between anxiety and poor bladder health isn’t well understood, there’s a well-established connection between the brain and bladder. Research shows that women with an overactive bladder are more likely to have anxiety and that it can make urinary symptoms worse.
A study of over 16,000 women even found that stress and anxiety can increase your risk of developing incontinence two-fold. This suggests a strong link between stress, anxiety, and bladder health — so it’s not so farfetched to think that maybe mindfulness could be the solution to an overactive bladder.
One study found that women who were consistent with their daily mindfulness practice had fewer episodes of incontinence. Another study had similar results, but both these studies were very small so more research is needed on the benefits of mindfulness for overactive bladder and incontinence. That being said, mindfulness can be an excellent tool for overall wellbeing, so it can’t hurt to include it as part of your daily self-care or bladder retraining program.
Because overactive bladder can be caused by more serious problems like pelvic floor dysfunction or multiple sclerosis, you should rule out any underlying conditions with your doctor before trying mindfulness.
Poor bladder health shouldn’t be a “normal” part of ageing, that’s why we created Jude’s Bladder Strength Supplements — clinically proven to improve bladder control and decrease urgency. Try today for better nights and happier days!