alternative medicine

Basics about Alternative Therapies

If there’s one thing about this country that frustrates people to no end, it’s health care. It has become so expensive to keep your body healthy. Not to mention all of the paper work, insurance forms and new medications that cost an arm and a leg – even when only taking the medication to make a leg feel better. Not just that, but with all the side effects to some medications, you’ll lose your arm and leg, and a kidney too! Luckily, there’re so many alternative therapies available that you can get rid of all the headaches of traditional or Western medicine. After all, people want to feel better, not worse. Alternative therapies cover a wide range of conditions, treatments and methods. Some of these include herbal or natural medication, acupressure or acupuncture, and different natural diets and supplements. Additionally, alternative therapies can cover a variety of ailments and illnesses ranging from headaches to cancer.

Acupunture and acupressure are two of the most popular forms of alternative therapies. They are both cure-all sorts of treatments in the sense that either of them can be used to treat or cure a number of illnesses and pains and aches. How does it work? Well, the long and short of it is that by targeting specific points on the body, you can release or stimulate different neural activities for different zones of the body. For example, for constant lower back pain, an acupunturist might search for a specific pressure point where the subtle reflexes that occur from the acupunture will trigger neural relief for the lower back pain. As far as alternative therapies go, acupuncture is one of the most consistently satisfactory for the patients. Scientific studies of the past couple of years have indicated that this is a valid alternative to traditional medication in some cases.

The other rage in alternative therapies is herbalism or the use of natural occuring herbs and plants to treat illnesses and boost the body’s health. Common among them are herbs and other natural products that will increase stamina or energy or reduce stress. Many of these herbal remedies vary based on the person taking them and other dietary factors. In addition, many herbal remedies can cost as much as pharmaceutical drugs and services.

The great thing about alternative therapies is the amount of exposure they’ve gotten over the past couple of decades. They are increasingly the subject of numerous scientific studies and analysis. Why is this a good thing? Because at some point in the future traditional medicine, alternative therapies and scientific medicine will all come together and offer the very best medical coverage for you and your family.

Alternative Medicine Early Leaders

Here we talk about two of the early leaders and pioneers of dental and medical alternative and complementary medicine. Early work from these two men helped current dentistry and medical treatments today.

Lloyd Clayton Jr.

clayton college natural health

Distance learning is very popular nowadays and suits the lifestyle of many students. The Clayton College of Natural Health, based in Birmingham, Alabama offers graduation programs, master’s levels and PhD programs in a wide range of courses. Alternative or complementary treatments are also popular, as people have become interested in seeking alternatives to conventional medicine.

The courses are valuable to anyone wishing to gain expertise in a specific subject for their own interest or to use in the pursuit of a career as a practitioner. Clayton College of Natural Health is well known with various alumni appearing in the media. Gillian McKeith (an expert in nutrition and a personality on television) and the author and naturopath, Hulda Regehr Clark are a well known gratuates.

A doctor of naturopathic medicine, Lloyd Clayton Jr., founded the college in 1980. Traditional Naturopathy is one of the curriculum choices available, along with Holistic Nutrition and Wellness and various natural health degree courses. Naturopathy is a broad subject, offering natural alternatives to invasive surgery and drugs. It includes such disciplines as herbalism, aromatherapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy.

Nutritional studies introduce the student to the benefits of organic food and a diet, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and organically raised meat. This reflects a general move away from processed foods and foods treated with chemicals and preservatives. Students learn about the value of foods such as garlic, olive oil, sea salt, nuts, brown rice and beans. There are also many herbs to learn about, including horsetail, papaya, wild yam root and aloe vera. There are also Certificate Programs available in Iridology Studies, Herbal Studies and Healthcare Professional Studies. For those interested in nutrition for animals, there is the Companion Animal Studies program.

Students are taught both theory and practice in all the disciplines and can study at their own pace. There are e-learning programs but students without a computer can also be a student. All the books and coursework is provided and faculty staff is available to answer any queries or to offer advice. Clayton College of Natural Health staff includes doctors of naturopathy, a chiropractor, counselors, a master herbalist and massage therapists.

Students are encouraged to feel part of a community at the Clayton college of Natural Health and a web site is designed so that they can communicate with one another. There are quizzes and recipes posted and a student’s book club. The entry level to the college is a High School Diploma, G.E.D or equivalent.

Edgar Cayce

Edward Cayce complementary medicine

There is a lot of interest in alternative therapies and complementary medicine today as people seek another path, away from conventional wisdom. Edgar Cayce was a very unusual man and an enterprising one. He was hailed as a psychic by his many followers. In addition to giving psychic readings, he had an interest in astrology and re-incarnation. However, his promotion of Edgar Cayce remedies is his most well known legacy.

Cayce’s belief in his products, pre-empted the complementary health movement and he gained celebrity status for his success in making naturopathy and folk healing popular. The Edgar Cayce remedies, still easily available today, fit in with the New Age interest in holistic medicine and he was an early pioneer of this philosophy. He also advocated a diet without meat, fried food, white bread and alcohol, apart from red wine and plenty fruit and vegetables.

The product range is very wide and caters for several different illnesses and conditions. Edgar Cayce remedies include homeopathic products such as Cimex Lectularius, which helps to reduce phlebitis, water retention and minor joint pain. There are also treatments for digestive problems and these include Ragweed Tincture, containing ragweed, grain alcohol and water. Olive Oil is also recommended for the digestion, in the form of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is also good for the skin.

People with sensitive skin and skin problems have a wide choice of Edgar Cayce remedies to choose from and many customers use treatments to maintain a healthy complexion. Sulflax is a mineral skin cleanser and the ingredients are sulphur, cream of tartar and Rochelle salts. Treatments for massages are also available and include Aura Glow Massage and Beauty Oil. This oil stimulates circulation and contains olive oil, lanolin, peanut oil and Vitamin E oil.

The complexion also benefits from Lavender and Roses Skin Lotion, which can be used for the hands, arms and face. It is especially suitable for improving dry skin and the ingredients are rosewater, grain alcohol, lavender oil and olive oil. Castor Oil is applied for the treatment of foot problems, such as calluses and corns.

There are several products that work as relaxants, designed to relieve stress and help with insomnia. These include organic Valerian tincture and Passion Flower Fusion, which contains passion flower and ginseng. Lithia Water, an extract from lithium is also taken for stress and to purify the kidneys. Customers of Edgar Cayce remedies will continue to use natural products and follow his recommendations.

Alternative Health Remedies

It’s a good feeling stocking your bathroom medicine cabinet up for everything you need for an everyday medical need – for insect bites, dandruff, indigestion or anything else. They do have lots of specialized over-the-counter stuff for every one of these things, and you could be tempted to buy them up. We all stock up this way to be ready for anything; in fact, we usually take it personally if there is a problem that we don’t have the right remedy for. The problem is though, that you never seem to need these things when they are close at hand. Sometimes, it’s when you’re out on a trip with the family or when you are at a friend’s house and a kid gets hurt that you really wish you had the exact right materials with you. That’s where it becomes useful to earn a few improvisational skills – using alternative remedies when you need to. What follows is a list of new uses for stuff we all have around the house or in our bags – to help you improvise, when the need strikes.

Tee Tree Oil

Everyone loves tea tree oil these days – we use it for athlete’s foot, for acne, for anything that needs a little antifungal or antibacterial action. What people often don’t know though is that tea tree oil is a great remedy against dandruff. So the next time you’re with a friend on a trip and they seem to have forgotten their anti-dandruff shampoo, throw them your bottle of tea tree oil; a teaspoonful added to regular shampoo should turn it antidandruff. And on that same trip, if one of you seems to have a little foot odor problem from maybe sitting in the car with their shoes on for too long on a warm day, how about having them rub their feet down with a cloth soaked in vodka. It happens to contain some pretty strong alcohol, and it will easily kill all the odor causing bacteria, fungus and other nasties (that should be some trip – smelly feet and vodka).

Headache and Pencil Technique

So you’re on a day out with your friends shopping, and one of you is really bothered with a headache. It can happen – too much walking, too much stress. Stress actually makes us reflexively tighten our jaw and this can starts off a tension headache. Fish out a pencil and ask your friend to hold it between their teeth without actually biting. It helps your muscles unclench and occupy themselves with something else. And the headache disappears.

Blisters and Listerine

People get blisters – women on their toes especially, when they pick shoes that are more pretty than they are comfortable. If that happens to you when you’re out of the right cream for that, are there any alternative remedies in your bag? You do, if you have a little Listerine somewhere. Put a few drops of Listerine on the sore part couple of times a day, and you should be set. For aching feet, a frozen bottle of water can work wonders. Just put it on the ground and roll it with your foot.

Hiccups and Sugar

Hiccups are common enough. But other than scaring a stuttering friend, what else do you have up your sleeve? Sugar, of course (no, not literally up your sleeve). Sugar helps the nervous system ease a misfiring nerve and calm a hiccup down right away. Now these should help you be the go-to person in your circle in a health emergency, shouldn’t it?

How Herbal Alternative Medicine

For centuries, herbal treatments were the primary medicines people, in a diversity of cultures around the world, relied upon to both cure and mitigate the common diseases and ailments. Even though people in the 1600s were unaware of the germ theory, through trial and error, they discovered that certain herbal treatments proved effective against infection.

In feudal times, it was the custom and responsibility of the ‘lady of the manor’ to be somewhat of an expert on herbs and their uses, maintaining an herb garden to dispense appropriate healing herbs to the people of the village, to remedy their ailments.

Spider Webs and Comfrey

Here are a few examples of historically popular and effective herbal remedies. Did you know that spider webs were used to protect against infection and help heal skin wounds, even into the mid-1900s? This herbal treatment is still useful, if you find yourself stranded in the back woods without a modern first aid kit. Comfrey, a common weed, is also known as ‘bone knit’. Before modern medicine, comfrey leaves were applied to the site of a broken bone, in the form of a plaster and bound up around the site of breakage. The broken bone would subsequently be mended back together, by generating new bone cells, due to a peculiar property of this herb. Cayenne pepper, taken internally, stops internal hemorrhaging and has saved many a life. Each of these herbal treatments are well documented by modern science, both in clinical studies and anecdotal reports.


During the 19th century, the so-called eclectic physicians relied almost entirely on herbal remedies, many times comprised of a mixture of herbs, to treat their patients. One of the most famous of these remedies was the result of a Canadian nurse’s investigation into Native American remedies, which came to be known as Essiac. This formula reportedly cured thousands of cases of various types of cancer and is still sold today in herb shops. Members of the Kennedy family used this formula with success, which probably contributed to the widespread popularity it still enjoys. At the same time, some unscrupulous healers jumped on the bandwagon, selling elixirs which were ineffective, but nonetheless popular. However, these charlatans soon popularized the term ‘snake oil sellers’, seriously damaging the credibility of legitimate physicians in general, along with herbal treatments.

Herbs and Modern Drugs

When modern medicine was in its infancy, pharmaceutical companies began producing their ‘magic bullets’ for a variety of diseases and common ailments. Interestingly, herbs formed the main constituents of these drugs, with one significant difference. These chemists would extract only the constituents of each plant which was deemed to be the curative property. If you study herbal medicine, you’ll find that all of the constituents in the plant parts, be it the leaves, berries or roots, have a synergistic relationship, whereby one constituent may be the driving force of the cure, but used alone, may be accompanied by undesirable side effects. The properties which were not included in the pharmaceutical version, most often offset and mitigated the undesirable effects, thus making the pharmaceutical an inferior herbal treatment option.

Try Herbal Medicine

It’s unfortunate that the ‘snake oil’ vendors compromised the opinion of the general population against the ‘old ways’ and so, popularizing the modern drugs, with the result that herbal treatments became passe. Today, with the many deleterious side effects of modern drug therapy, fully a third of Americans report using herbal treatments as an effective alternative form of medicine. If you doubt the veracity of herbal medicine, it may be worth your while to try a few of these ancient remedies on minor injuries as a test case. For example, should you become sunburn from a day at the beach, try applying aloe gel to the affected area. It certainly works, serving to both heal the skin, prevent blistering and take the sting out of the burn. You may find that herbal treatments are as effective as the OTC remedies, at far less expense, making a valuable addition to your first aid kit.

Alternative Medicine History

We would all like to live healthier lives, but often medical and wellness information is either difficult to come by or confusing. Alternative medicine applies to all facets of health, whether it is urological, dental, orthopedic, or any other bodily function. With so many people writing about alternative medicine it is difficult to known what is true and what is error or distortions of truth and in many cases we just have not come to the full truth of an issue. The science of health is rather new in terms of actually working out the mechanism of how these treatments work. As a result, the information is eternally evolving and being clarified.

For example, we have known for thousands of years that many herbs and plant extracts are healthy and can prevent disease, but until recently we didn’t know the biological effects of these medicinal compounds. Over the past 30 years there has been an explosion of research demonstrating the mechanism of action of plant extracts and herbs, even down to specific cell signaling effects of these compounds. Unfortunately, the medical profession is far behind the times and is mostly unaware of these important discoveries.

On this website I will share with you many of these discoveries and guide you through how to utilize this knowledge to protect yourself and your loved ones from an ever rising sea of diseases and disorders afflicting our society. I thank you for your interest in this most important endeavor. But first, let’s take a quick look at the history.

The Beginnings of Alternative Medicine

Connected to a variety of different cultures, alternative medicine indeed has a very interesting history. Frankly speaking, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly when and where alternative medicine truly originated. This is primarily due to the fact that the practices which were under the term regarded as conventional medical practices during that time. However, if we trace the various forms of what is now alternative healing by going back in history, we will find that they go back at least 5000 years, which can indeed be regarded as very, very old!

History of Eastern Alternative Medicine

The oldest recorded practice of alternative medicine remains in the ancient Chinese civilization. Much like the way alternative medicine is being used today, the ancient Chinese too used them on the basis of their ability to heal the body and keep it and the spirit balanced. Buddhist and Taoist principles form a large portion of the philosophical basis of Chinese Medicine. According to this belief, an individual and their environs are closely linked together. The popular “Yin and Yang” theory, which comes from Chinese Medicine is very integral to this practice.

The theory of Yin & Yang explains the importance of opposing forces to one another and elaborates how balance within the body is dependent on the balance between these two. When Yin and Yang are unbalanced, it leads to serious diseases. According to Chinese Medicine, this balance can be restored (and diseases can be thwarted) with the help of methods like acupuncture, herbal medicine, movement and breathing techniques (such as Qigong and Tai Chi) and through good diet. Practitioners in this area observed the health and lifestyle of the patients to find out if their Qi (pronounced Chi) i.e. their “force of life” was out-of-balance, and then used different methods to get the patient restored to their healthy selves. Even if today’s modern world, Chinese Traditional Medicine is often used in clinics and hospitals alongside modern medicine.

India too has a rich history when it comes to alternative medicine. Going as far back as 6000 years, alternative medicinal practices in India too are closely linked with Buddhism. Ayurveda, which is a very popular practice in India even today, has its origin in two Sanskrit words: “Ayu” (life), and “Veda” (the knowledge of). An established system of medicine in its own right, Ayurveda aims to keep good health by keeping a person’s mind, spirit and body in tune with their surrounding nature.

Alternative Medicine in the West

The first use of such Medicine in the West goes back to around 3000 years. The ancient Greek, who were highly influenced by Babylonians and somewhat so by China and India introduced the practice of herbal healing in the West. Practices like hydrotherapy were extremely popular with the Greeks and the Romans. Hippocrates, popularly called “father-of-medicine,” was a Greek physician who was known to practice herbal medicine. In the Middle Ages, the European monks began to study medicinal plants and later even started growing them. They even translated several works on the topic from languages such as Arabic. Folk healers too began to pass knowledge from one generation to another by word-of-mouth.

Upon arriving and settling in America, the Europeans found out that Native Americans had great knowledge about the healing capacity of indigenous herbs. Similarly, the Australian aborigines had a strong understanding of the plants which were found in their environs and knew how they could be used in medicine. With the coming in of the 19th Century – and before the development of Western Medicine the way we know it today-, medical practitioners acted like the “naturopaths” of today’s world. After taking in an in-detail medical history and observing their lifestyle, they would proceed to suggest the ways in which they can improve their health through dietary and environmental changes. They were also known to prescribe different kinds of herbal remedies.

Mold Changes Popularity of Alternative Medicine

The use of various alternative medicine forms declined considerably in number in the 20th Century. This was primarily due to the increasing development in modern medicinal practices, which led to a more hospital-based clinical approach of treating the sick and a much wide-based use of pharmaceutical-grade drugs to treat diseases. Finally, the discovery of the “wonder-mold” Penicillin and its subsequent development into a life-saving drug, which could thwart bacterial infections with much more effectiveness in the 1940’s, totally changed the way modern health care was perceived. Alternative medicinal practices totally lost their ground.

While many Doctors abandoned what they called “outdated” treatments like herbalism and homeopathy, among others, several patients continued to seek them out. A large number these were those for whom normal medicine did not seem to work.

Alternative Medicine Today

In today’s day and age, the alternative medicine usage is once again on the increase. Different alternative medical practices like herbal medicine, acupuncture, healing as well as aromatherapy, are being kept alive by hard-working practitioners who are specialists in one or more of these kinds of treatments. A new development in this regard is the use of alternatives with modern clinical treatments. This development has led to alternative medicine being renamed as complementary medicine.

From the aforementioned brief history, it is clear that many alternative medicine practices that are being used today have in fact been with mankind for millennia. And with the burgeoning popularity of the alternative medicine used in dealing with health problems today, it can definitively be said that said practices will stay for years to come.

Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Urology

For those accustomed to modern medicine, it is difficult to put alternative medicine and urology in the same sentence. However, there has been a growing interest in the use of alternative and complementary medicine in treating several diseases, and the trend is witnessed even in Western nations. For instance, more than 30 percent of patients in the U.S use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and they spend over $50 billion per year. The most common providers of alternative treatments include chiropractors, acupuncturists, and herbalists.

Patients Who Use CAM

A survey done in the U.S found that CAM was popular among younger patients with higher income levels and education compared to uneducated people with lower income. In the UK, organizations that educate medical practitioners and the public on CAM have been established. In addition, the UK parliament in 2002 published a comprehensive report on the use of CAM, areas of future research, and the training of healthcare professionals on the regulations and guidelines to be followed.

In the U.S, the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) has categorized CAM into five key domains. The domains include:

1. Mind-body treatments; these include mental healing, prayer and meditation;

2. Alternative medical approaches, such as Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and homeopathy;

3. Biological therapies, for example, the use of special diets and herbs, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins;

4. Body manipulation methods, such as massage and chiropractic therapy; and

5. Energy-based therapies, such as therapeutic touch and Reiki, Qui gong, and bio-field therapies.

Biological therapies are the most relevant to urology because they provide provisions and products that are increasingly being used to treat simple urological conditions.

CAM Treatments for Prostate Disorders

CAM treatment for prostate cancer entails the use of diet, fruits, vegetables and observing general nutritional guidelines. Several studies have shown that adopting a diet with low calories, low amounts of saturated fat, but contains lots of phytoestrogen, high amounts of isoflavones (found in green tea and soy products), and fruit and vegetables reduces the chances of developing prostate disorders. Moreover, the diet improves the prognosis of prostate disorders and prostate cancer in patients suffering from the conditions.

Researchers have noted that the type of diet and lifestyle habits in Western and Asian countries might explain the low prevalence of prostate cancer in these populations. Approximately 30 to 75 percent of patients suffering from cancer globally use CAM therapies that include biological, herbal, and dietary based approaches. About 60 percent of people with prostate cancer also utilize the aforementioned CAM treatments in treating their condition.

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The use of CAM in Treating Erectile Dysfunction

The use of CAM in treating ED has not shown higher success rates compared to clinical trials that have used placebos and chemical drugs. Some of the CAM products used to treat ED include zinc supplements, acupuncture, gingko extracts, red ginseng products, and yohimbine among others. However, the use of these herbal products has not proven to be superior over placebos.

The Use of CAM Therapy in Treating Urinary Tract Infections

In alternative medicine and urology, cranberry juice is the most commonly used in treating urinary tract infections because the juice can prevent bacteria from adhering to thin inner walls of the bladder. Clinical trials at have demonstrated that cranberry juice is effective in treating urinary tract infections in women compared to placebos. Furthermore, cranberry reduces the risk of developing urinary tract infection symptoms in women who have been sexually active in the last six months. However, studies have shown that the use of cranberry juice can lower the absorption rate of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections. Moreover, excessive consumption of cranberry juice can lead to gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea.

Red Wine and the Risk of Prostate Cancer

alternative urology red wineEarlier studies have shown that a strong relationship between intake of alcohol and certain cancers such as prostate, lung and rectal cancer exists. However, red wine prostate cancer study done recently have shown that consuming red wine may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. One study compared the history of alcohol intake of 753 men between the ages of 40 and 64 years with prostate cancer, and a similar number of men without the disease. The findings indicated that the risk of developing prostate cancer in the group that consumed red wine dropped by 24 percent. Another earlier study done in Australia indicated that women who consumed one or several glasses of wine on a daily basis reduced their chances of developing ovarian cancer by 40 percent.


The use of CAM in treating different medical conditions is becoming popular across the globe, especially in Western nations. Complementary and alternative medicines include a variety of therapies. Some of the therapies under the approach are complete treatments on their own, while others are used to enhance modern medicine. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to establish the efficacy of CAM in treating urological conditions and other diseases.

Classical View of Women’s Bladder Problems

Urinary incontinence or bladder leaking happens when the when the bladder storage system fails. When it fails you lose urine in small amounts at the wrong time. All women with incontinence can be helped – some women will be cured and others will at least have their quality of life improved.

Facts About Urinary Incontinence

  • One third of women over 30 years of age suffer from urinary incontinence.
  • It is not a disease but is a symptom indicating that the bladder is not working properly.
  • It is not caused by being female.
  • It is not caused by aging (but changes with age may add to the problem).

Urinary incontinence has a significant negative effect on women’s quality of life. Many women forgo social and/or physical activities because of their urine leakage. This site will explain why leakage happens and outline factors in your life which you can modify to help your problem. As well, we will describe various treatments for your urine leakage and give you strategies to cope with your incontinence.

Risk Factors of Urinary Incontinence

  • smoking
  • certain medications (e.g. diuretics)
  • constipation/fecal impaction
  • physical conditions affecting mobility and dexterity (e.g., MS, arthritis)
  • obesity
  • caffeine and fluid intakes
  • high impact physical activities
  • occupations which involve heavy lifting and straining
  • certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, stroke)

Urinary Tract Components

  • The kidneys which produce the urine by removing water from the blood
  • The ureters which are tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder
  • The bladder which stores the urine in the body
  • The urethra, the tube which carries the urine out of the bladder.
  • The bladder is a hollow balloon-shaped organ. Its walls are made of muscle. The walls of the urethra are surrounded by muscles which squeeze to keep the urethra closed and hold the urine in.

Types of Incontinence

Women who are having leaking from the bladder usually have one of the following problems:

Urgency Incontinence – Failure of the storage system

  • A loss of urine that is associated with a strong desire to urinate and an inability to delay long enough to get to a toilet.
  • It usually involves a large amount of urine loss at one time (soaked clothing, running down legs).
  • It may include urine loss on the way to the bathroom or the “key in the lock” / “hand on the doorknob” syndrome (no urge to urinate until the key is in the door lock or the hand is on the knob and then it is impossible to wait).
  • A condition called “an unstable bladder” often causes urge incontinence. It may be caused by a urinary tract infection or abnormalities in the nerve control of the bladder. However, in 85% of cases no abnormality is found. More commonly, unstable bladder is caused by bladder irritation resulting from consumption of too much caffeine.
  • The bladder storage system fails and you cannot hold your urine.

Stress Incontinence – Failure of the urethra or the “valve” which closes the bladder

  • The involuntary loss of small amounts of urine in response to increased pressure on the bladder (for example, when a person coughs, sneezes, laughs, or lifts heavy objects urine leaks out).
  • Stress Incontinence results from weakened pelvic support of the urethra and/or weakness of the sphincter muscle of the urethra.
    It may be due to the effects of childbirth or menopause on the pelvic structures.
  • The weakened urethra fails to act as a valve to keep the urine in the bladder.

Mixed Incontinence – Both stress and urge incontinence at the same time

  • Women with mixed incontinence will leak urine with coughing and lifting but they will also have an urgent need to pee and will have trouble holding their urine until they can get to the bathroom.
  • There is a problem with both the urethral valve and the bladder storage system. In this case treatments for both problems may be necessary.

Overflow Incontinence

  • A continuous leaking of urine from the bladder. You have no control over your bladder.
  • This condition is very uncommon. It can be caused by severe prolapse of your bladder ( the bladder is coming out of the vagina). It can also be caused by damage to the nerves which control bladder emptying.

Tests to Check Incontinence

There are several routine tests which are usually performed to try to find out what is causing bladder leaking. There are some supplementary tests which may be done to provide your healthcare professional with more information about your particular bladder problem. There are other specialized tests which are only necessary when it is difficult to find a cause for the leaking.

Routine Tests

  • Urine test for infection
  • Medical history (including any medications you may be on)
  • Physical exam of your pelvis – uterus, ovaries, tubes, and bladder
  • Bladder diary
  • Test of the support of the urethra (tube leading from bladder to outside your body)
  • Cough stress test
  • Post-Void Residual Volume

Supplementary Tests

  • Pad Test -determines how much urine leaks from the bladder with physical activity.
  • Record of Dietary Intake and Bowel Evacuation

Specialized Tests

  • Cystoscopy – looking inside the bladder with a scope
  • Urodynamics – measuring pressures in the bladder and urethra
  • Other imaging tests (e.g. bladder ultrasound)

Self-Help Tips

You can help your bladder by:

  • avoiding fluids which irritate the bladder (e.g., caffeinated beverages)
  • keeping your bowels regular
  • losing weight
  • keeping yourself fit and mobile
  • avoiding repeated exposure to high impact physical activities
  • stopping smoking
  • asking your doctor whether any of your medications have a negative affect
  • on the bladder – tell her/him about your urine leakage


1. How successful is surgery for urinary incontinence?

The success of surgery for urinary incontinence depends to a large extent upon the type of surgery performed and to a lesser extent on the type of incontinence experienced by a woman. The best surgical procedures cure about 85% of women who undergo surgery. Examples of the best surgeries include the Burch procedure and most sling type procedures. These surgeries are designed to cure stress incontinence.

2. How do I find a health care provider in my area experienced in treating incontinence?

The Canadian Continence Foundation maintains a list of specialists across Canada. For information about treatment in your area, or for more information about incontinence, see their web address under ‘websites’.

3. How long will it take for the medication for urinary incontinence to work? Is it something I must take lifelong?

The most commonly used medications for the bladder work by keeping the bladder muscle relaxed to control frequent voiding and urgency incontinence. They begin to work immediately and should produce results within a couple of days of use. These medications are used to control your symptoms, not to cure the problem. You will have to take the medication as long as you have these symptoms.

4. Can you have intercourse with a pessary?

It is possible to have intercourse with some models of pessaries in place in the vagina. This is not possible for all women, but is most likely to be possible for women using incontinence ring pessaries or ring pessaries for prolapse. However, it is recommended that pessaries be removed before intercourse.

5. Does catheterization or urodynamics cause bladder infections?

Catheterization performed carefully and in a clean fashion should not cause bladder infection. Short-term catheterization, as is the case for urodynamics, is much less likely to cause infection than is a catheter left in to drain the bladder for several days.

6. If my mother had bladder surgery, does that mean that I will have to have surgery?

Bladder surgery is used to cure stress incontinence by restoring support to the urethra. Damage to the support of the urethra can be caused by childbirth but also by constant strain on pelvic supports caused by heavy lifting or chronic straining or coughing. Your mother needed surgery because she had damaged support for her urethra and was not able to correct the problem with conservative treatments. You will only require surgery if you experience the same problem and conservative methods of management don’t work for you (e.g., kegel’s exercises, pessaries).

7. What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a condition in which the bladder lining becomes inflammed. This causes pain and frequent voiding. It is diagnosed by looking into the bladder (cystoscopy). There are a variety of treatments for interstitial cystitis which include dietary changes and medications.

8. What should I do if I see blood in my urine?

Blood in the urine (hematuria) means that there is a problem somewhere in the urinary tract. Common causes of hematuria include bladder infection or a kidney stone. Another more rare cause may be a tumor somewhere in the urinary tract. However, the incidence of bladder cancer in women is very low. (The rate of bladder cancer in women in Nova Scotia is approximately 1 in 10,000 women). You should tell your doctor immediately if you see blood in your urine. He or she will arrange the appropriate investigations and treatments.