acupressure for incontinence
Incontinence

Acupressure: Can You Pressure Away The Urge?

If you’ve got bladder leaks, there are a few precautions you can take. Wearing the right kind of absorbent product, practicing Kegel exercises, and always knowing where the nearest restrooms are — just to name a few. But here’s one I bet you didn’t think about: acupressure.

Despite seeming like an unorthodox approach, acupressure has shown some results. That’s especially true when it’s used along with other methods to help with bladder leaks such as bladder training, avoiding bladder irritants, and wearing an absorbent product. For anyone who’s willing to try just about anything, trying acupressure can’t hurt.

What Exactly is Acupressure?

Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s establish one thing: we’re not talking about acupuncture. You know, acupuncture involves a lot of tiny needles. This isn’t that. While acupuncture has also seen positive results against incontinence, it’s not the same as acupressure. But acupressure and acupuncture are related. They focus on the same points on the body, but one uses needs whereas the other does not.  

Acupressure uses finger pressure on specific parts of the body to stimulate a type of natural self-healing ability. It just doesn’t use needles. Many people use acupressure to treat pain, illness, and stress.

If you’re into alternative health methods, then this one’s for you. Acupressure is a technique from ancient China that focuses on life energy flowing through the body. The energy flows through nodes called meridians. And something being wrong with the body is usually attributed to a blocked meridian. Acupressure and acupuncture apply pressure to these points to clear the meridian to let the energy flow freely once again. Whether or not the reasoning sounds plausible to you, some women have seen results.

What Exactly Can Acupuncture and Acupressure Do For Bladder Leaks?

To date, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that acupuncture will definitely help with your bladder leaks. Like a lot of treatments in the alternative medicine world, doctors and researchers just haven’t tested it out enough.

And for acupressure, some studies have found that acupressure relieved symptoms of overactive bladder and urge incontinence to give people a better quality of life compared to other therapies. There isn’t a lot of evidence, but it is a start.

DIY Acupressure

While acupressure is preferably done by a professional, you can also give it a try on your own. After all, there’s a YouTube video for everything. If you want to get started right this moment, then consider the following technique.

Find the spot three to four fingers’ width above your ankle, on the inside (big toe side) of your leg. When you feel like you gotta go, then press into this point firmly with your thumb for about a minute.  Now, I must be honest. Finding the point yourself can be tricky and so can providing the right amount of pressure. Therefore, seeking a professional at least once can help you gain some knowledge on how to do this correctly.  

Pressing down on this particular point when you feel nature’s call can reduce feelings of urgency. This provides you time to find a restroom before any leaks happen. With time and practice, you can potentially push back leaks for longer amounts of time. Essentially, it can help train your bladder.

Self-Help Treatments

Acupressure and acupuncture may not work for everyone. As with all alternative medicines, a lot of it has to do with the severity of your problem.   That said, if you’ve met a lot of dead ends for treatment or you just want to have more options available, trying out acupressure treatment is a great option. While there aren’t a lot of studies to support the technique, plenty of women have used it to find relief. Learning more about acupressure can only help, especially when coupled with other approaches such as bladder training, Kegels, and diet adjustments.

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By Jessica Thomas, MPH