“Menopause is a piece of cake,” said no woman ever! It can be a physical and emotional rollercoaster, and we’re along for the ride whether we like it or not. But knowing what’s happening can help make it more manageable.
As if hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats weren’t enough, perimenopause and menopause also can cause—you guessed it—bladder leaks. The reason for this is the same reason why everything else is happening: your ovaries are dialing back their estrogen production.
That essential hormone was in command during puberty and pregnancy. Now it’s diminishing, and the impact of its absence hits your pelvic floor and urinary tract in some very specific ways. Vaginal tissue gets less elastic, your urethra lining starts to thin and the pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder get weaker.
These conditions increase the likelihood that you’ll experience some stress incontinence, the annoyingly common kind of bladder leakage that happens when we cough, sneeze, laugh, etc. It’s why we start telling our personal trainers we should pee before jumping rope, and why we might pass on playing tag with the grandkids.
Another type of incontinence experienced by menopausal and perimenopausal women shows up as strong feelings of needing to pee (urgency) as well as nonstop trips to the bathroom (frequency). If you feel like you have to go more often and find yourself hurrying to the bathroom, an overactive bladder is probably to blame.
Thankfully, there are ways we can manage and live with the bladder leakage and increased urges experienced during perimenopause and menopause. As with so many life circumstances, the first levels of response are all you:
Other strategies you can adopt on your own include:
And whether you’re contending with stress incontinence or an overactive bladder, being closer to an ideal body weight, eating healthily and avoiding excessive consumption of caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages is always a good idea. Extra pounds mean extra pressure on your bladder, and we all know that second cup of coffee or extra cosmopolitan can have us bounding for the bathroom, whether it’s mid-morning or the middle of the night.
More extensive measures—such as medication or estrogen replacement therapies—always begin by having a conversation with your doctor. So, if you’re approaching or in that inevitable stage of life where estrogen is making its exit, keep the lines of communication with your doctor clear.
While menopause marks a major change in a woman’s life, it comes with its own rewards, too, like more time for yourself. Using that time to indulge in some well-deserved self care is a great way to accentuate the positive. Finding solutions that let you easily manage leaks and live fully is a great start!.
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