How does Menopause Affect Bladder Control
Menopause causes hormone changes, such as the reduction of oestrogen, such that the ligaments which holds your bladder in place will weaken and be less resilient, which causes the bladder to shift position slightly.
This can have an effect on your body in the following ways:
- Your pelvic floor muscles weaken
As with most muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles also tend to weaken with age. As these muscles control your bladder and bowel, your ability to hold on and get to the toilet in time will diminish, hence you’ll experience the urge to visit the toilet more frequently. Having weak pelvic floor muscles also makes it harder to control gas and may also give rise to the onset of prolapse (condition in which organs fall and slip out of place). Fret not! There are ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises.
- Your once elastic bladder is no more
As you age, your bladder’s elasticity decreases and has more difficulty in stretching. Then, as your bladder fills, this loss of elasticity tends to irritate the bladder muscle causing it to be overactive. An overactive bladder means you pass urine more often than normal. Combine this with weaker pelvic floor muscles, this makes it tough to hold on or to put off going to the toilet.
- You may experience vaginal dryness
As your body produces less of the hormone Oestrogen, the lining of the vagina produces less mucus resulting in vaginal dryness. A similar thing happens in the urethra (your bladder’s outlet tube) and exposes you to a higher-than-normal risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). This happens when normal bowel bacteria move into your urethra. Your General Practitioner (GP) may prescribe Oestrogen cream or an Oestrogen pessary to prevent further urinary infections.
- You’ll probably gain weight
You may find yourself putting on a few kilos with the onset of menopause. Any significant weight increase means placing extra stress on your bladder, resulting in you running the risk of developing bladder and bowel control problems by placing extra stress and eventually weakening your pelvic floor muscles. This, in turn, leads to stress incontinence, and you may notice leakage when you cough, laugh or sneeze. Try to keep your weight in a manageable range.
Some other health problems
You’ll notice other things starting to play havoc with your health that may cause or worsen incontinence. These include:
- Diabetes — identified as putting women at higher risk of developing incontinence
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) — a common complication of diabetes where nerve damage to the bladder and bowel can lead to a loss of sensation, poor emptying and constipation. The best way to prevent or stop nerve damage is to keep on top your diabetes.
A Hysterectomy can also cause problems
If you’ve had a hysterectomy or prolapse repair, you may find you have problems with controlling your bladder. It’s unclear if the surgery itself may be the culprit. However, pelvic floor exercises before and following surgery will go a long way to helping lessen and possibly eliminate incontinence after a Hysterectomy.
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Kimberly-Clark Singapore makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.
Other urinary incontinence causes