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During menopause, women undergo significant hormonal and physical changes. While symptoms may vary, you may be surprised to learn that up to 40% of women will experience incontinence during menopause. While incontinence types can vary in severity, generally speaking menopausal women will experience a small amount of leakage from simple activities such as laughing, sneezing, or exercise. Other types of incontinence, such as urge or overflow incontinence, may occur but are less commonly experienced during menopause.
So Why Does Incontinence Occur During Menopause?
As an individual progresses through menopause, estrogen decreases in the body. As estrogen decreases, muscle tone and definition can decrease as well. There are significant pelvic muscles that require certain levels of strength to maintain control over the bowels. When these muscles weaken, women can experience leakage. Additionally, blood flow to the pelvic area is also thought to decrease during menopause. Women who had natural pregnancies often find that incontinence to be a more prominent issue.
What Can Be Done To Reverse Menopausal Incontinence?
Simple lifestyle changes will often be the first way to combat symptoms of incontinence during menopause. This can include changes in diet, or exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles. Reducing your caffeine intake, as well as increasing portions of vegetables and fruits, can reduce chances of involuntary leakage from the bladder. Additionally, bladder retraining or kegel exercises can combat incontinence. Bladder retraining is when you gradually hold your bladder urges for increasing periods of time. Eventually the bladder will be trained to resist leakage. Kegel exercises are a strengthening exercise that enhances pelvic muscle tone. Do 3 sets of 15 kegels a day for optimized results.
While most cases of incontinence can be reversed, it’s important to have maximized protection if you are experiencing involuntary leakage. Often times pads can protect against incontinence. In more severe cases, incontinence underwear can be used for protection. Modern advances in absorbent technology have made incontinence briefs and incontinence panties stylish options for protective garments. If you are experiencing incontinence during menopause, speak to your health professional to determine which route of treatment is best suited for you.