Urinary Leakage, Bladder Problems and Menopause - 8 Ways to Manage Symptoms
Urinary incontinence, painful urination and urinary tract infections are common at menopause and perimenopause. Incontinence should not be seen as inevitable - there are plenty of solutions to help improve or cure bladder symptoms. We have 8 solutions for you to try out.
Bladder Problems Can Badly Affect Morale and Confidence
Increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence/leaking, painful urination and night time peeing are common symptoms of menopause. These can be brought on by laxity of muscles caused by changes in hormones espcially the decrease of oestrogen. Weakened pelvic muscles and the thinning of membranes are the most common causes of these difficulties. Bladder symptoms can be very distressing but they are very treatable.
A weakening of the pelvic floor muscles is common during perimenopause - you may notice that you have a leakage of pee when you cough, sneeze or jump. Star jumps or the trampoline are out of the question for some of us! As soon as you notice these limitations it's time to work on improving your pelvic floor with exercise that some may know from childbirth. The exercises are sometimes known as Kegels. Other interventions include biofeedback using electronic devices, which provide electrical stimulation. Medication and complimentary treatments like homeopathy, naturopathy and acupuncture can reduce many types of leakage. In some cases collagen implants may be injected and in more severe cases surgery may be required where other approaches are unsuccessful.
Post-menopause many women find that they have to sprint to the toilet in order to make it on time as they get little warning from the brain.
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Too many women suffer in silence and shame as they don't realise that it's possible to get help with these under discussed and troubling urinary symptoms. It's good to hear that women’s healthcare professionals are seeing an increase in demand for the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction and bladder/bowel incontinence issues. These conditions are common with menopausal women and unfortunately many women receive no treatment and assume the problem cannot be resolved. Many assume it's just an unfortunate by-product of aging or multiple births. With the correct assessment and treatment, bladder problems can be either cured or made much more comfortable.
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Urinary Incontinence Solutions and Self-Care
- Your gym instructor may be able to give you a programme that concentrates on building pelvic floor muslces and core strength. Be careful that your gym exercise does not increase the pressure on the bladder. It's well worth getting some expert advice so that you aren't exacerbating the problem through the wrong kind of exercise - e.g. heavy weights and high impact exercises.
- Drink a steady amount of water throughout the day but avoid drinking lots of fluids late at night.
- Maintain a healthy weight and maybe consult a nutritionist to make sure that you have a healthy diet that has plenthy of alkaline foods, roughage and probiotics and not to much refined sugar. A nutritionist may recommend supplements like Vitamins B and C to help maintain collagen and elasticity which is important as skin and membranes become thinner as oestrogen levels drop.
- Reduce your intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, green tea.
- Contact your GP, or if possible, a specialist physiotherapist to discuss assessment and treatment. There is plenty of help out there - don't suffer in silence.
- Homeopathic remedies can be very useful when correctly prescribed by a professional homeopath. I recently had great results with a combination of the remedy Sepia and I started to do a 1-minute plank daily. I have seen a massive improvement in the strength of my pelvic floor - a huge improvement in my quality of life too.
- Wear panty liners while you get treatment - there is nothing worse than the damp feeling of urine leaking.
- Even if you don't suffer from urinary incontinence it's a good idea to get into the habit of doing regular pelvic strengthening exercises such as Kegels or pelvic floor lifts. We should all be doing about 10 pelvic floor lifts 5 times a day as we brush our teeth, wait in queues etc. Make sure to get good advice on how to do these exercises correctly.
Cystitis and other Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) become more common during and after menopause as tissues are thinning. The thinner lining of bladder walls and urethra make them more susceptible to bacterial infection. The first signs that your bladder is under pressure is when you feel that you need to pee but when you try you can't. Take immediate steps to drink extra water and reduce your intake of sugar which will feed the infection. Support your immune system by taking regular doses or Vitamin C and adding garlic and probiotics to your diet. If you feel pain or burning before, during or after urinating make sure to seek help from your doctor, naturopath or other healthcare professional.