Some women on the menopause experience what can be the most embarrassing of all menopausal symptoms, urinary incontinence, tending to notice the lack of bladder control, especially when we sneeze or laugh! More than 40% of menopausal women suffer from incontinence. This can occur, possibly due to hormonal fluctuation (but not solely.
It’s the inability to control the bladder. The severity can vary and some may experience occasional trickles of urine when bursting into laughter or while having a sneezing episode, but others might notice larger and more frequent uncontrolled urine flows that don´t seem to be stimulated by laughter or a body-shaking sneeze.
Although many women experience incontinence as they approach menopause it isn´t an inevitable aspect of getting older. But understanding this menopausal symptom can help to prevent, or to treat it.
There seems to be three different types, stress, urge, and overflow incontinence, but stress incontinence is the most prominent type experienced, especially by women who are approaching menopause or who are post-menopausal. Women with stress incontinence involuntarily leak urine while coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting something. The reason these activities can cause incontinence is because they apply sudden pressure to the bladder walls, which squeezes the bladder and causes urine to leak out. The reason this occurs as women get older is because the pelvic muscles often grow weaker, which weakens the walls between the bladder and vagina.
Urge incontinence is the sudden, intense, and frequent urge to urinate, immediately followed by an uncontrollable loss of urine. The bladder contracts and may give a warning of only a few seconds or a minute and it can occur while sleeping, drinking, or while listening to running water.
Overflow incontinence is characterised by frequent or constant dribbling urine. Those with this are unable to completely empty the bladder, which fills up and then overflows, causing leakage. Sufferers often have the sensation of never fully emptying their bladder, and when they urinate, they produce only a weak stream of urine. This type of incontinence is common with people who have damaged bladders or blocked urethras. It can also be a result of nerve damage from diabetes.
Reason for stress incontinence
Because oestrogen helps to keep a woman´s muscles strong, even the muscles that enable her to maintain control of her bladder, it is possible that, if there were a decrease during this time in her life, that incontinence may occur as a result. Oestrogen also contributes to the health of the urinary tract lining and if the levels of this hormone were to drop, it could affect the muscles and weaken the bladder.
REMEMBER – IT SHOULD NEVER BE ASSUMED THAT OESTROGEN LEVELS DROP DURING MENOPAUSE AND HORMONE LEVELS SHOULD BE CHECKED TO FIND THIS OUT FOR SURE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION ABOUT, OR AGREEING TO TREATMENT.
However, for prolonged cases of incontinence, or if you’re concerned in any way, seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
Other causes of incontinence are:
Nerve damage from diabetes or stroke
Difficulty walking or moving
There are several treatment options to make this pesky menopausal symptom a thing of the past. A good way for a menopausal woman to alleviate incontinence is to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles, which control the bladder.
To begin with, lie down, then squeeze or pull in the pelvic muscles, as if you wanted to stop weeing
Keep them tight for a count of three
Release; rest for a few seconds
It’s also helpful to cut out caffeine and tobacco because these can worsen incontinence.
A great way to combat incontinence, and dozens of other symptoms that are making you feel less than well, would be to mix lifestyle changes with alternative natural remedies.
This involves the least amount of risk, but requires the highest amount of self-discipline. Often, simple changes in lifestyle can reap huge benefits in fighting menopausal symptoms, and achieving a higher overall level of health. Fundamentally, techniques for stress reduction, such as yoga or meditation, combined with regular exercise and an improved diet, can be a great natural menopause treatment. Diet in particular is key – please speak to a nutritional therapist who can help you with this.
Alternative approaches involve little or no risk and can be an extremely effective way to treat menopause symptoms. This level of approach can involve several different therapies. Homeopathic and herbal remedies are wonderful, as is acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy, Reiki, Meta-medicine and so on. All of these treatments are effective, though some find that herbal supplements are the easiest treatment to follow, as other menopause treatments can require a greater time and financial commitment.
BUT - it’s important to remember that you are an individual. One size doesn’t fit all. The life you’ve lived, the experiences you’ve had, the thoughts and feelings you’ve had, your family, your beliefs, and so on, all serve to make you the beautiful, unique woman you’ve become. And it’s for this reason that when you decide to take responsibility for your own well-being, you may have to try several avenues before discovering what suits you and what heals you. We all need a helping hand to get through difficult periods in our life and there’s plenty of help out there. Just keep talking to people to find what it is you need. Spend the time on yourself.
You’re worth it and you deserve it.