What Is The Link Between Menopause and Incontinence?

menopause incontinenceMany people refer to incontinence as a “bladder problem” or a “weak pelvic floor” as the word “incontinence” sadly has a stigma associated with it and no-one really wants to talk about it. However around 1 in 5 women over the age of 40 suffer with incontinence and 40% of menopausal women.

The Bladder and Bowel Foundation estimates that a quarter of us will have a problem with bladder control. It has long been associated with old age but it isn’t a natural part of the ageing process. In fact five million people in the UK under the age of 24 have a bladder problem.

What is Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is essentially the inability to control your bladder and when involuntary leaking occurs. The severity can vary from woman to woman. Some women may only experience occasional trickles of urine when coughing or sneezing. Others may have larger amounts of urine which is uncontrolled. This is because there are different types of incontinence.

Stress Incontinence: When there is some pressure on pelvic floor muscles through activity such as sneezing, coughing and lifting, small amounts of urine escape. The loss of oestrogen associated with menopause can lead to weakness of the pelvic muscle support and cause stress incontinence.

Urge Incontinence: Also referred to as “overactive bladder”, this condition causes people to feel a strong immediate urge to go to the toilet.

Overflow Incontinence: This kind of incontinence occurs when the bladder can’t completely empty which causes small amounts of urine to leak from the bladder. To treat this kind of incontinence, catheter manufacturers have created an intermittent catheter which enables the drainage of excess urine. It is this “left behind” retained urine which irritates the bladder and causes an urgency to go.

Why Does It Occur During Menopause?

There are many symptoms of menopause but this is probably the most embarrassing. If it’s not enough to contend with mood swings and hot flashes, throwing incontinence into the mix is no laughing matter.

During menopause, oestrogen levels drop dramatically. Oestrogen has an important function when it comes to muscle tone and when the hormone drops the muscle tone weakens too. There are various muscles which support the pelvic bowl but as these weaken they aren’t strong enough to hold the opening of the bladder in the closed position and women can experience leakage.

Menopause may not be the only reason for bladder problems. There are other factors which can cause incontinence. Natural pregnancy is a major factor as the pelvic floor is weakened with carrying a baby. Medications such as diuretics, infections and damaged nerves from diabetes or stroke can all be contributing to incontinence.

How Can I Prevent It?

There are various ways in which incontinence can be treated or alleviated with some lifestyle changes and incontinence products.

1. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day – Incontinence sufferers may avoid drinking fluids as it may need them to urinate more. However limiting your fluid intake can be worse for you because it limits your bladders capacity.

2. Bladder Training – Try and wait longer between needing to urinate and passing urine as you can train yourself to not go as much.

3. Exercise – Try core strengthening exercises such as kegel exercises which will strengthen pelvic floor muscles to reduce urinary leakage. Core strengthening exercises such as pilates or yoga can help strengthen muscle tone.

4. Avoid alcohol as this is a diuretic which is a substance which makes you urinate more. Cutting this down may help incontinence troubles.

5. There are a range of products created for incontinence but why should dignity be thrown away? Adult nappies and pads can cause irritation and can feel derogatory. If you are experiencing any types of incontinence and are finding it difficult getting to the toilet in time, the new melio leg bag can be a great device for managing incontinence whilst being highly discreet. It gives you greater control and improved self confidence as the urine bag has a urine level sensor and warning system. It can also be emptied discreetly without a struggle.

This article was brought to you by Albert medical devices who are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to deal with incontinence, without affecting your quality of life.

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