Medically Reviewed by Joycelyn C. Schindler, MD
Medically reviewed by Joycelyn Schindler, MD
Menopause is part of a woman’s natural aging process. Many women find that incontinence seems to be part of her change in life.
However, incontinence during menopause is not inevitable. It can be cured with physical therapy, biofeedback, medication and surgery.
“Menopause is a time of many hormonal and physical changes for a woman,” says McLeod Gynecologist Joycelyn Schindler, MD. “Some of these transitions – a weakening of pelvic muscles, a less elastic bladder and weight gain exerting pressure on the bladder – contribute to incontinence. And every woman’s response to menopause is unique. Yet, there are measures you can take to increase your chances of maintaining continence.”
Here are the top 5 personal actions you can take:
- Try to maintain your weight. One natural result of aging is that the body doesn’t burn as many calories as when you were young. Watch your diet and exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be a daily 4-hour workout that movie stars use to stay in shape. Thirty-minutes of walking, bike riding and swimming at least 3 times a week are a good start.
- Include fiber in your diet to aid digestion and avoid constipation. When you’re constipated, you strain the pelvic muscles, possibly weakening them.
- Do Kegels as part of your workout routine. This simple exercise helps keep your pelvic muscle strong and more capable of controlling the urine flow. It’s easy to learn and you can practice it while watching TV or even at your desk at work.
- Watch what you drink. Caffeine in coffee and sodas, as well as carbonation, irritates the bladder. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, triggering the bladder to make and empty more urine.
- Use a bladder diary to help keep your bladder on schedule. If you think you are suffering incontinence, start tracking when you go to the bathroom and how much urine you are passing. This record will help your Gynecologist determine if you need treatment and, if so, what type. Also, the act of keeping a bladder diary can also help you mentally focus on keeping a schedule of urination.
Many women, who are experiencing menopause, use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to control the symptoms of menopause. There is some evidence to suggest that HRT may contribute to incontinence. You should check with your Gynecologist about side effects of HRT that you may be experiencing.
As you talk with your Gynecologist about menopause, don’t hesitate to discuss the symptoms of incontinence you are experiencing.
Find a Gynecologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, European Menopause Journal, New Zealand Continence Association, National Institute on Aging, American Urological Association, Journal of the American Medical Association