Overactive Bladder & Menopause

Posted by GPWHC on 24 November 2017

Menopause can bring about many changes; night sweats, mood swings, hot flashes and possibly even urinary issues such as an overactive or sensitive bladder. There’s a lot going on in a woman’s body as she ages, but it’s important to remember that urinary incontinence is a very common issue for menopausal women to experience, and there are treatment options available.

You may have noticed that you are waking up more frequently at night to urinate, or you are leaking urine when you sneeze, cough or even exercise. Some women may experience more frequent urinary tract infections. Though these symptoms sounds alarming, take comfort in the fact that urinary incontinence can be treated, and in some cases even cured.

As women enter menopause, their levels of estrogen begin dropping. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle, and it also keeps your bladder, urethra, and surrounding pelvic muscles strong and functioning properly. As women go through menopause their estrogen levels begin to decline, and this dip in estrogen affects the muscle strength in the pelvic region, leading to urinary incontinence, or lack of bladder control.

Some common types of urinary incontinence are as follows:

Urge Incontinence . This is when the bladder muscles squeeze at the wrong time (or all the time) causing leaks.

Stress Incontinence . This is the most common kind of bladder control issue in menopausal women. The pressure caused from laughing, sneezing or coughing can push urine through the weak muscle, resulting in leaks.

Nocturia occurs when you are consistently getting out of bed to use the bathroom several times a night.

Painful urination . After menopause, women may begin to have urinary tract infections (UTI’s). These can give you a burning sensation while urinating.

Now that you are more familiar with the types of urinary incontinence associated with menopause, what can be done to treat these issues? Some lifestyle changes include limiting caffeine as well as avoiding alcohol and spicy foods. Be sure to drink plenty of water, but be careful about drinking water late at night. Kegel exercises work by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and building muscle tone in your pelvic region. Maintaining an ideal weight may help with UI as well.

Treatment Options Available:

Prescription medications . Certain medications may help reduce UI symptoms and treat some urinary tract infections.

Electrical stimulation of the pelvic muscles. If your urinary incontinence is related to nerve impairment, stimulating the nerves of your pelvic muscles may help.

Pessary Device . This is the most commonly used device for the treatment of stress incontinence. A pessary is a stiff ring that’s inserted into your vagina to help reposition your urethra to reduce urine leakage.

Biofeedback . By learning when your bladder muscles contract, you may be able to gain better control over them. A wire is connected to an electrical patch over your bladder which sends signals to a monitor, and alerts you when your muscles are contracting.

Surgery to repair and lift the bladder into a better position may be considered when other forms of treatment do not work.

Don’t suffer in silence! Getting a physical examination can help your provider determine the best method of treatment. Your doctor will do an exam as well as take a urine sample. It’s important to discuss urinary incontinence with your healthcare provider to figure out which treatment option is best for you. If you’re suffering from urinary incontinence, contact the compassionate providers at Great Plains Women’s Health Center to get diagnosed and treated. Remember, you’re not alone, we can help!

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Overactive Bladder & Menopause
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