Menopause And The Bladder
World Menopause Day
Yesterday marked World Menopause Day and an opportunity to discuss a change in life that affects every single woman at some point.
Menopause appears to be one of those taboo subjects where women will just ‘put up’ with menopausal symptoms. For some women though, menopause can be quite debilitating both physically and mentally.
Bladder weakness is something that affects many women going through menopause. Some women think that urinary incontinence is an inevitable part of the ageing process but it isn’t and there are ways to prevent this and treat this if it does happen. Bladder weakness usually starts in the perimenopause stage as levels of oestrogen start to drop. Oestrogen is responsible for causing the urethral and vaginal tissues to thin and as women age, pelvic floor muscles can start to relax. Both of these factors can lead to urinary incontinence.
What Are The Main Types Of Urinary Incontinence In Menopausal Women?
There are two main types experienced…
- Stress Urinary Incontinence – where you may leak urine when your bladder is put under pressure such as when you cough, sneeze or exercise
- Overactive Bladder – this is usually caused by some kind of irritation to the bladder and cause symptoms of urgency and/or frequency
How Can I Help To Prevent Bladder Weakness?
Having a strong pelvic floor will help to support your bladder and keep your bladder sphincter muscle in control. There is an easy and discreet exercise called ‘Kegel Exercises’ that you can perform at any time to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Simply, clench your muscles as if you were holding in your urine for around 10 seconds and relax and keep repeating this process several times a day.
How Can I Treat Bladder Weakness?
There are lots of medications that are available on prescription that are used to treated urinary incontinence. You will need to see your GP to discuss your symptoms so they can decide on the best method of treatment for you. Depending on your type of incontinence will depend on your treatment. Below are links to some of the treatment options available
Some of these treatments will need time to start working so if you need something more immediate to help you feel more comfortable then there are a wide range of feminine continence products available on the market now. Many of these have now been designed to be more discreet and can help to take away the embarrassment of urinary incontinence. You can find more information on the products available here.
HRT And Oestrogen Supplements
Hormone Replacement Therapy has had a lot of bad press in recent years with links to an increased risk of breast cancer. At present, research hasn’t been able to definitively prove that HRT does increase your risk of breast cancer, however caution is still taken in some patients in particular with those who have had or have a linked history to a hormone related cancer and those at risk of blood clots.
For others HRT can bring a relief to many menopausal symptoms and help to rebalance hormone levels. HRT comes in many forms including tablets, patches to treat general symptoms and pessaries and creams, which can give localised relief from bladder symptoms and vaginal dryness. You can ask your GP to refer you to a Menopause Specialist, who can advise you on the different types of HRT and what may work for you.
Bladder weakness is experienced by many and we always advise you to seek help from your GP or nearest continence clinic. You can now self refer in many cases. Our search tool on the Bladder and Bowel Community’s website allows you to find your nearest self referral clinic.
For more information on managing the menopause, Menopause Matters has some great advice.