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Acupuncture For Stress Incontinence

acupuncture for bladder incontinence

Acupuncture for Bladder Incontinence

According to the American College of Physicians approximately half of women ages 40 to 60 experience bladder leaks, or urinary incontinence.    As with many chronic conditions conventional medicine does not offer many suitable answers without unwanted side effects.   According to the ACP approximately $19.5 billion was spent on urinary incontinence care in 2004.   The most common type of urinary bladder incontinence is called stress incontinence which is the leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, exercise, or laugh.  I have found acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to be extremely helpful for stress incontinence.    A recent study in JAMA  offers research evidence of what we experience in the acupuncture clinic.

JAMA Study

This study had 482 women with bladder incontinence. They were divided into two groups where half received a type of acupuncture called electroacupuncture (EA), where needles that have been inserted into the skin are stimulated with a TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation).  The control group received a ‘sham’ acupuncture treatment.

After 6 weeks of treatment, the average amount of urine expelled during tests designed to stress the bladder dropped by 9.9 grams in the acupuncture group compared with 2.6 grams in the ‘sham’ group.

In addition, 38 percent of the active treatment group reported that the number of times they experienced bladder leakage was cut at least in half. Only 23 percent of the ‘sham’ group had similar results.

In addition, this study had a bias against acupuncture because it used ‘sham’ acupuncture which often offers a positive effect.  (In fact in the NIH no longer funds ‘sham’ acupuncture).

Lasting Effects

A quality-of-life questionnaire was given to all participants 24 weeks after treatments concluded. The active acupuncture group continued to experience less leakage and reported greater symptom improvements showing acupuncture’s lasting effects.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are safe and effective treatment options for urogenital issues, and the benefits are clear when it comes to acupuncture for bladder incontinence. Our medical system needs to identify them as a first line stress incontinence care option.




Liu Z1, Liu Y2, Xu H3, He L2, Chen Y4, Fu L5, Li N6, Lu Y7, Su T8, Sun J9, Wang J10, Yue Z11, Zhang W12, Zhao J13, Zhou Z14, Wu J1, Zhou K15, Ai Y2, Zhou J1, Pang R1, Wang Y1, Qin Z1, Yan S2, Li H2, Luo L2, Liu B1. Effect of Electroacupuncture on Urinary Leakage Among Women With Stress Urinary Incontinence: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2017 Jun 27;317(24):2493-2501. PMID: 28655016. [PubMed] [Read by QxMD]

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