Gotta Go? Incontinence May Be Challenge for Menopausal Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Gotta go? Nope, I don’t mean shopping. Instead, I mean going to the bathroom.

    It turns out that midlife women are twice as likely as men to suffer from incontinence.  Older women experience urinary incontinence more often than younger women, according to Menopause and the structure of the female urinary tract are two of the reasons behind this. (The other two causes are pregnancy and childbirth.) Barbara Seaman and Laura Eldridge in “The No-Nonsense Guide to Menopause” state that researchers are not sure whether there is a relationship between incontinence and menopause. They do note that there is evidence that the urogenital tissues thins after menopause, which cause the vagina and bladder to lose elasticity. However, multiple factors such as aging and heredity may contribute to incontinence.

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    There are several types of incontinence, according to, including:

    • Stress incontinence, which is caused when coughing, laughing, sneezing and other movements put pressure on the bladder which causes urine to leak.  This type of incontinence often can be treated.
    • Urge incontinence, which is when urine is lost for no apparent reason when you suddenly feel the need to urinate. This type of incontinence is often caused by inappropriate bladder contractions.

    Other types of incontinence include overactive bladder, functional incontinence (due to having physical or mental impairments that make it difficult to get to the toilet in time), overflow incontinence (because the bladder doesn’t empty on time), and mixed incontinence (which means that the person has a combination of incontinence types). Incontinence also can be caused by a shrinking bladder which often happens as we age, according to Seaman and Eldridge.

    Seaman and Eldridge encourage women who are suffering from incontinence to talk to their doctor, especially since it may be a signal of a more serious problem such as bladder cancer or diabetes. They suggest that prior to the appointment, you consider keeping a record of your trips to the bathroom, including how often you urinate, what time of day, episodes of leaking, and any unusual urinations (such as if it has a strange color, an unusual smell, or contains blood).

    The doctor may recommend behavioral remedies. One of these is timed voiding in which you would use the bathroom at regular timed intervals. The time between scheduled trips to the bathroom can be increased as you gain control of your bladder. Kegel exercises also can help strengthen the muscles that help stop the urine. These exercises, which take about five minutes, should be done daily and can result in better bladder control in three to six weeks. Your doctor also may prescribe medications, biofeedback, neuromodulation (stimulation of nerves to the bladder), vaginal devices for stress incontinence, and injections for stress incontinence. Surgery is another option, although Seaman and Eldridge stress that this should be the final one you explore. “We cannot say this strongly enough: if your doctor recommends surgery before other options to deal with urinary incontinence, you should probably find another doctor,” they write. “Again and again incontinence has been shown to respond more efficiently to muscular training than to either pharmaceutical options or surgical intervention.  This is not to say that surgery is never the right option – sometimes it is – but there are many things that should be explored first.”

Published On: November 02, 2010