Millions of women experience urinary incontinence (UI) which occurs when the pelvic muscles weaken resulting in unintentional bladder “leaks” or an inability to control the bladder. However, urinary incontinence is treatable and avoidable if you’re willing to talk about what’s going on with your doctor. You’re not the only one suffering from these embarrassing “leaks” and it doesn’t have to continue!
Urinary Incontinence and Menopause
During menopause, estrogen levels drop which simultaneously weakens the pelvic muscles. So while many women experience urinary incontinence during the span of their life, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause. You don’t have to resign to the notion that this is just a sign of “getting older.” There are three different types of UI that occur in most women post-menopause, and all three can be easily treated.
This occurs when the sphincter or pelvic floor is weak and allows urine to escape when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or even pick up something that is heavy. This is the most common type of UI in older women. Women suffering from stress incontinence are either unable to hold back a small amount of urine, or have a complete loss of control.
If you feel an excessive urge to urinate, you may be experiencing urge incontinence. With an overactive detrusor muscle, your bladder constantly feels the need to urinate, even after you’ve just gone to the bathroom. The detrusor muscle is a muscle in the lining of the bladder that relaxes to store urine and contracts to release the urine. When the detrusor muscle continuously contacts, you always feel the need to go to the bathroom. This is often referred to as “overactive bladder.”
Functional Incontinence occurs when you cannot get to the restroom in time as a result of a mental or physical condition, even though you are fully aware of your need to urinate. Physical conditions may include severe back pain, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis that make trips to the bathroom difficult, especially in a public restroom. Mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, different forms of dementia, or even depression may dampen someone’s awareness of their need to urinate and preventing them from reaching a toilet in enough time.
Reducing Your Symptoms
In order to reduce your symptoms and gain control over your bladder, there are some lifestyle changes you must be willing to make.
- Exercises: Practicing sit-to-stand motions, walking at least a quarter-mile, taking the stairs, or doing leg raises every day will improve your ability to get to restroom on time. These exercises are especially important if you struggle with functional incontinence.
- Keep Your Bladder Empty: Don’t wait until your bladder is full and finding a restroom becomes an emergency. You’ll be able to better control your bladder if you empty it on a regular basis.
- Limit Certain Drinks: While it is important to stay hydrated, it is equally important to limit certain drinks. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol, which are known to irritate the bladder.
- Lose Weight: Losing excess weight may help remove extra pressure on your bladder, giving you a greater sense of control.
Your doctor may also be able to prescribe medication to help regulate and control your urge to urinate. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Our fabulous team of doctors at The Woman’s Clinic are ready to help you overcome urinary incontinence. This isn’t something you have to live with anymore. If you have already experienced menopause and are suffering from any of these symptoms of UI, call to make an appointment today.