If you thought hot flashes and mood swings were all of menopause, then I’m willing to bet you haven’t gone through it yet. That’s because if you are menopausal, or have been through menopause, chances are pretty good that you now know the truth… incontinence can often be one of the unwanted side affects of menopause.
September is officially National Menopause Awareness Month. According to a press release by the North American Menopause Society, “this month-long event was established by U.S. federal legislators who recognized the need to increase awareness about the importance of having accurate information to enhance women’s health at menopause and beyond.”
Some women may have experienced incontinence for many years before entering menopause, but for many, menopause will bring with it the first experience of losing bladder control. With menopause comes a natural decrease in estrogen levels. That drop in estrogen can lead to a weakening of pelvic floor muscles and tissues. Those weakened muscles can cause organs in the pelvic region to drop, and can prevent a tight seal in the urethra from forming, which can lead to urine leakage.
The incontinence most often associated with menopause is called stress urinary incontinence or SUI. This doesn’t refer to emotional stress, but rather physical stress. The pressure exerted during activities such as lifting, laughing, coughing, or running can cause urine to leak out, resulting in incontinence.
If you’re menopausal and experiencing the symptoms of SUI it’s important you talk to your doctor. I know that the conversation can seem embarrassing, but it’s important to rule out a serious medical condition, or something easily treatable such as a urinary tract infection. Once you’ve ruled out the other possibilities, your health care professional will be able to suggest some treatment options including Kegel exercises, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, and surgery. There are other options as well, which your doctor can review with you.
Published On: September 13, 2006