You probably don’t want to talk about it — most women don’t — but urinary incontinence, or involuntary loss of urine, is a relatively common symptom of menopause. However, being common doesn’t mean that it’s something you can’t do anything about.
Parisa Pourzand, MD and her staff offer treatments that can help with urinary incontinence, regardless of the type or underlying cause. We think it’s important for you to know that having more difficulty controlling your bladder as you approach menopause is a problem many women face. In this post we explain why and also what you can do about it.
Menopause lasts just one day, the day that marks 12 months since your last period. But, as you may already know, it can take a long time to reach that day. You may not have a period for six months, then have one. The time period before you reach menopause is called perimenopause, and it can last as long as ten years.
During perimenopause, your body produces less estrogen, along with many other changes. Estrogen helps to keep your bones healthy and it also helps to keep the soft tissues in your body elastic and your muscles strong. With less of it, you may lose muscle mass, leading to a condition known as pelvic relaxation, and the lining of your urethra may become thinner.
The first problem, pelvic relaxation, tends to be worse in women who have experienced vaginal childbirth. That’s because childbirth can cause damage to the muscles of your pelvic floor that you’re not even aware of, so pelvic relaxation means weakening already-damaged muscles.
The result of pelvic relaxation and a weaker urethra can be urine leakage. The most common type is stress incontinence — when you leak a little urine when you cough or sneeze, pick up a heavy object, laugh, or otherwise put pressure on your bladder.
Or, you may have urge incontinence, when the muscles of your bladder don’t work properly and you constantly feel like you need to urinate. You may have heard this referred to as having an overactive bladder.
More rarely, you may have overflow incontinence, which is when you can’t completely empty your bladder and urine leaks as a result.
Dr. Pourzand makes treatment recommendations based on your situation, so the type of incontinence you’re experiencing, your medical history, and many other factors are important. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Physical therapy to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
- Medications to help your bladder relax
- Medications to improve the health of your urethra and vaginal tissue
Treatments for urinary incontinence are effective, which means you don’t need to worry about losing urine while you're out shopping, exercising, or having sex. With appropriate treatment, you can continue to live an active, healthy lifestyle without the embarrassment or discomfort of urinary incontinence. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Pourzand today and find out what the best approach is for you.