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Urology 101

Natural health tips for common urological health conditions

September marks the beginning of Urology Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign organised by the Urology Foundation.

"Urological health conditions encompass a wide range of disorders that affect the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra," explains Liberty Mills, a certified Integrative Health and Nutrition Professional ( "These conditions can vary in severity and may have different causes, symptoms and treatment options."

Bladder weakness
What is it?

"Bladder weakness, also known as urinary incontinence, refers to the involuntary leakage of urine," says Liberty Mills. "It can occur due to various factors such as weakened pelvic floor muscles, nerve damage, hormonal changes (e.g., menopause), certain medications or underlying medical conditions.

"There are different types of urinary incontinence, including stress incontinence (leakage during activities that put pressure on the bladder), urge incontinence (sudden and intense urge to urinate followed by leakage), overflow incontinence (inability to completely empty the bladder), and functional incontinence (physical or cognitive limitations hindering timely access to a restroom)."

What things can help?

"Treatment options for bladder weakness depend on the underlying cause and severity of symptoms," says Liberty. "These may include pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) to strengthen the muscles supporting the bladder, lifestyle modifications (e.g., managing fluid intake, avoiding bladder irritants), medications to relax the bladder or tighten the urethral sphincter, and in some cases, surgical interventions.

To support individuals with bladder weakness, it is important to provide a supportive and understanding environment. Encourage them to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment options. In the meantime, they can use absorbent products such as pads or adult diapers to manage leakage and maintain their comfort and dignity. Additionally, promoting healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption can help improve bladder control."

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (bph)
What is it?

"Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is the non-cancerous overgrowth of prostatic tissue surrounding the urethra, through which urine leaves the bladder," says Dr Dick Middleton, a registered pharmacist and Director of the British Herbal Medicine Association, on behalf of A.Vogel (

"BPH symptoms are present in most men over 60 years and can reduce the quality of life by necessitating several trips to the toilet during the night, and experiencing a feeling of not having completely emptied the bladder, as well as a weak urine flow."

What things can help?

"Reducing excess weight will help, as symptom severity is associated with being overweight," says Dr Middleton. "Ensuring the diet is full of fruit and veg and low in caffeine, alcohol and processed meat products has also been associated with better prostate health. An extract of saw palmetto berry has shown compelling clinical evidence for effectiveness at relieving symptoms of BPH in men. Clinical trials have shown that the extract is significantly more effective than placebo. More recently, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Men's Health has shown that the extract is as effective as the alpha receptor blocker medication, tamsulosin, at relieving symptoms.

"I would only ever recommend a saw palmetto product that has been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a Traditional Herbal Registered product (THR), as that gives me the reassurance that the product is of consistently high quality. Always look for the THR logo on the pack or in-pack leaflet to identify such products."

Urinary tract infections
What are they?

"Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of any part of the urinary tract causing inflammation," says Andrea Burton, technical advisor with Bio-Kult ( "Lower UTIs are commonly known as 'cystitis'. In more than 80 per cent of cases UTIs are caused by overgrowth of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E.Coli) originating from the digestive system or vagina, which translocate to the urinary tract, causing infection. They more commonly affect women, due to anatomical proximity. Symptoms include frequent or urgent need to urinate, pain/burning sensation whilst urinating, cloudy or unpleasant smelling urine, pus or blood in the urine. More serious upper UTIs could cause nausea, fever, lower back pain and confusion. Medical advice should be sought if you experience these symptoms."

What things can help?

"A healthy immune function is needed to help prevent UTIs," says Andrea. "Immune-supportive nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, selenium and zinc are essential, so eat plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables. Switching to wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates is advisable to provide a variety of immune-supportive nutrients, fibre to feed beneficial species of bacteria in the gut and to regulate blood sugars. Fermented foods such as live yogurt and kefir, containing friendly Lactobacilli bacteria, have also been shown to protect against UTI recurrences.

Cranberries have traditionally been used for UTIs due to their proanthocyanidin (PAC) content. PACs have been shown to prevent UTI-causing bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract lining, so they can be flushed more easily from the body when you go to the toilet. At the same time, cutting down on sugary foods, refined carbohydrates and alcohol is recommended, as these foods can feed unbeneficial bacterial species and aggravate the urinary tract lining. Live bacteria supplementation can help to restore the gut, vaginal and urinary microflora, inhibiting pathogens such as E.coli. Lactobacilli species have been shown to be particularly effective. Those that are prone to recurrent UTIs are best advised to supplement on an on-going preventative basis, rather than waiting for acute symptoms to manifest."

To find out more about Urology Awareness Month and for further advice on urological health conditions, visit

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