Menopause brings about many physical changes in the body. The hormonal changes affect most of the functions and processes of body systems in one way or another.
At this stage of life, all women notice at least a few changes. While many have no major problems or discomforts, some experience moderate to severe symptoms that can interfere with their daily activities. One such symptom is urinary incontinence.
How Menopause Affects The Body?
At the onset of menopause, the body is beginning the process that ends the fertile stage of life. The ovaries stop production of estrogen and fat cells take up the task, but in much smaller quantities. This creates hormonal imbalances within the body that affect the usual functioning of other processes. The end result is sterility and physical changes within the tissues and chemistry of the body.
Low estrogen is the most common cause of menopausal symptoms. Functions in the genital area are also affected in some women and urinary problems are fairly common.
The Link Between Menopause And Urinary Incontinence
Low estrogen levels can lead to atrophy and drying of the vaginal and surrounding tissues. When elasticity is lost, vaginal walls begin to thin and become fragile. The decrease in muscle mass also contributes to weakening of the supporting muscles in the pelvic region, and can result in urinary incontinence.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence occurs the bladder infection symptoms. This can be embarrassing when it happens in public and can interfere with a woman’s comfort in conducting day to day activities such as shopping and running errands in public.
In addition to the weakening of pelvic muscles and surrounding tissues, urinary incontinence can arise because of pregnancy and childbirth. These are conditions that can take their toll on pelvic muscles. Other causes can be overactive bladder muscles and nerve damage.
Other causes can include the growth of cysts and infections of the urinary tract system. In some cases, these conditions may require medications that may or may not include surgery.
Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence
Your physician may conduct a physical exam to test for any abnormalities that may be causing urinary symptoms. Other tests including urinalysis, bladder stress test, cystoscopy and ultrasound may be used to gather more information if required.
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
The most common treatment for urinary incontinence in women do not involve the use of medications. Kegel exercises are recommended to help strengthen the muscles and sphincter strength. Other treatment options may include bladder training, biofeedback, catheterization, surgery or medication. Keeping a diary of voiding habits is recommended as it can help to identify voiding patterns.
Some forms of localized estrogen therapy have been effective in treating menopause and urinary problems incontinence in conjunction with alleviating symptoms from vaginal atrophy and dryness.
Further Recommendations For Controlling Urinary Incontinence
Experts also recommend limiting the amounts of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, and a total cessation of smoking as these substances are believed to be contributors to the problem. In addition to Kegel exercises, some physicians recommend holding the urine for extended periods to try to strengthen supporting muscles.
There is evidence to support the fact that menopause does have a physical impact on the processes that involve normal urinary tract functions. Although not all women will experience incontinence, many will and do. Changes in the body chemistry, such as fluctuating hormones can cause muscles and tissue in the pelvic region to weaken. The result for some women is urinary incontinence.
In addition to this, other risk factors that contribute to urinary problems during menopause are pregnancy, childbirth, urinary tract infections, nerve damage and a lack of exercise. Excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol increase the symptoms of menopause and should be avoided.
Treatments for urinary incontinence most commonly involve performing exercises to strengthen supporting muscles. This can include Kegel exercises and holding urine for extended periods.
Some medications, including estrogen therapy are used to treat severe cases of incontinence, but they are generally not the first choice for treatment. More research is needed to identify additional and hopefully more effective treatment options. Although more than half of women who participate in treatment therapies find relief from urinary incontinence.