Urinary Incontinence

By Jiang Liu, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine
AR Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic
2024 Arkansas Valley Dr., Suite 402
Little Rock, AR 72212


Urinary incontinence is any involuntary leakage of urine or loss of bladder control. It can happen to anyone, but is very common in older people. Symptoms can range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. Women are more likely than men to have incontinence.

Urinary incontinence can result from anatomic, physiologic or pathologic factors, causing weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, blockage of urinary tract, damage to nerves that control the bladder.

Temporary urinary incontinence

    • Alcohol
    • Overhydration
    • Caffeine
    • Bladder irritation
    • Constipation
    • Medications
    • Urinary tract infection

Persistent urinary incontinence

    • Pregnancy and childbirth
    • Changes with aging
    • Hysterectomy
    • Painful bladder syndrome
    • Prostatitis
    • Enlarged prostate
    • Prostate cancer
    • Chronic urinary tract infection
    • Bladder cancer or bladder stones
    • Neurological disorders: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, a brain tumor or a spinal injury
    • Obstruction: tumor or stone in urinary stones and vaginal prolapse


    • Stress urinary incontinence is due essentially to insufficient strength of the pelvic floor muscles.
    • Urge incontinence is involuntary loss of urine occurring for no apparent reason while suddenly feeling the need or urge to urinate.
    • Overflow incontinence occurs when the patient’s bladder is always full so that it frequently leaks urine.
    • Structural incontinence caused by structural problems such as an ectopic ureter or vaginal fistulas.
    • Functional incontinence happens in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a hard time getting to the toilet in time because of other disorders that make moving quickly difficult.
    • Mixed urinary incontinence involves two or more types of incontinence.

Conventional treatment
Weight loss in overweight women reduced stress incontinence; Exercises to the muscles of the pelvis to strengthen or retrain pelvic floor muscles and sphincter muscles can reduce stress leakage; Absorbent products such as shields, undergarments, briefs, diapers and underpads can be used to protect underwear; Electrical stimulation can strengthen muscles in the lower pelvis; Biofeedback can be used to help the patient become aware of his or her body’s functioning; Medications can reduce some types of leakage; Pessaries can be used to the patients who have urinary incontinence caused by vaginal prolapse; A variety of materials can be used to add bulk to the urethra and thereby increase outlet resistance; Catheterization to the bladder can be used for the patients due to overflow incontinence to drain urine; Surgery procedures are often used to alleviate incontinence after other treatments have been tried, including bladder repositioning, retropubic suspension or bladder neck suspension surgery, various sling procedures, bladder augmentation or artificial urinary sphincter.

Chinese Medicine
Since the complexity of herbal medicine, acupuncture is often chosen for clinical studies. However, in clinical practice, acupuncture is often combined with herbal medicine or some other modalities of Chinese medicine. The following types of urinary incontinence are often observed in clinical practice.

Deficiency and coldness of kidney qi

  • Symptoms: frequently urine leaking, long and thin flow of clear urine, low spirit, aversion to coldness, tiredness, pale complexion, sore waist and knees with no strength, dizzy and tinnitus, cold extremities, spermatorrhea, premature ejaculation or impotence
  • Tongue: light-colored, fat with teeth marker, and thin and white coat
  • Pulse: thin, weak and no strength

qi deficiency of lung and spleen

  • Symptoms: urinary incontinence with urgency after the birth or after the disease, occasional urine leak, exacerbating when coughing, standing up, sneezing, talking or laughing, accompanied by cough, asthma and tiredness, poor appetite or abdominal bloating
  • Tongue: light-colored with thin, white coat
  • Pulse: weak and no strength

Hot dominancy of bladder

  • Symptoms: urine dripping frequently, urgent and painful urination, yellow urine, burning feeling when urinate, heavy and uncomfortable feeling in low abdomen, bitter and dry month
  • Tongue: red with yellow coat
  • Pulse: stringy, slippery and fast

Yin deficiency of liver and kidney

  • Symptoms: urinary incontinence, short and slow flow of yellow urine, burning feeling in urinary tract, often accompanied by dizzy and tinnitus, red cheeks, thirsty and forgetful, sore waist and no strength in the legs, night sweating or constipation
  • Tongue: red with scanty coat
  • Pulse: stringy, thin and fast

Stagnation of Xia-Jao:

  • Symptoms: can not control urination, bloating, pain in low abdominal area with sometime detectable mass
  • Tongue: dark, or petechiae with thin coat
  • Pulse: stringy, weak and uneven