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Menopause and Incontinence
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Menopause and Incontinence

Understanding the Link between Menopause and Incontinence in Women

Many studies have shown a clear link between incontinence and menopause in women. Incontinence is a serious problem that can affect your health, self-esteem and social life. There are ways to deal with incontinence both medically and at home. Women should understand the link between menopause and incontinence as well as some of the ways to handle the condition.

Why Menopause Causes Incontinence

A change that occurs during menopause is a drop in the production of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is an important hormone for women. It directly affects the bladder and urethra. Low estrogen levels can cause the walls of the bladder and urethra to become thin and inflamed. This can lead to incontinence. Similarly, the pelvic muscles in the body can start to atrophy and become weaker. This also contributes to the development of incontinence.

Types of Incontinence Associated with Menopause

Menopause can lead to several different types of incontinence in women. The most common is called stress incontinence. This occurs when pressure from someone touching the abdomen, sneezing or even laughing forces urine out of the bladder. A second common type is urge incontinence. This causes women to feel an immediate and unexpected need to urinate. Leakage can occur soon after the urge appears. Overflow incontinence means the bladder is never fully emptied. This can lead to leaks or frequent trips to the bathroom. Mixed incontinence is a condition that combines elements of both urge and stress incontinence.

Managing Incontinence

Some women who have gone through menopause can manage incontinence symptoms personally. One option is to train the bladder so that it becomes possible to resist urges to urinate for increasingly longer periods of time. Another option is to start doing Kegel exercises in order to strengthen the muscle so that urine cannot escape. Several women with minor incontinence choose to wear absorbent pads during the day to prevent problems.

Medical Treatments for Women

There are medical treatments for women who have developed incontinence after menopause. Urge and stress incontinence can be treated by inserting electrodes that cause the pelvic muscles to flex and grow stronger over time. Medical devices like a pessary can be inserted to change the position of the bladder to relieve incontinence. Injections of substances like the botulinum toxin can affect the nerves in the bladder. A final option is surgery to insert a device that will close the urethra or support the neck between the urethra and bladder.

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