While you may expect uncomfortable symptoms related to menopause, you might not have been prepared for the urine leakage that often accompanies this stage of life. Read on to learn more about the link between menopause and urinary incontinence, as well as ways you can treat this potentially embarrassing issue.
What Causes Menopausal Urinary Incontinence?
Most of the symptoms associated with menopause are related to a lack of estrogen, the hormone that regulates female sex characteristics during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation. During menopause, estrogen levels in the body decline, which can cause thinning of the lining of the urethra and weakening of the pelvic floor. Either of these issues alone or the combination of the two can lead to bladder control problems.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are several different kinds of urinary incontinence, but two are specifically associated with menopause. Stress incontinence occurs when a few drops of urine leak during sneezing, coughing, laughing, or lifting a heavy object. Urge incontinence means that the urge to urinate comes on suddenly and intensely, so much so that you may have trouble making it to the bathroom in time. Some women also experience nocturia, meaning they wake several times during the night to urinate.
Treatment Options for Menopause-Related Incontinence
If you’re experiencing incontinence, our doctor will first rule out other underlying conditions that can lead to urine leakage. Treatment strategy depends on the type of incontinence you have and the extent of your symptoms, but often includes:
• Kegal exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor through repeatedly tightening the muscles in that area. Most doctors recommend a set number of Kegals each day.
• Limiting liquid in the evening is often effective if you’re experiencing nocturia. You should also consider completely eliminating beverages that can irritate the bladder, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
• Timed toileting can also help you regain control of bladder muscles. Try going to the restroom to urinate every hour on the hour, then gradually extending this interval until your lavatory schedule is more manageable.
• Maintaining a healthy weight removes pressure on the organs, which can help relieve urinary incontinence
If these lifestyle changes are ineffective, our doctor may recommend prescription medication, vaginal estrogen cream, biofeedback therapy to ensure that strengthening exercises are done correctly, electrical stimulation, or fitting of a device called a pessary, which helps stop leakage. In severe cases, surgical correction may be necessary.