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The Relationship between Menopause and Bladder Control


Some women have bladder control problems after they stop having periods (menopause or change of life).

After your periods end and you have been “period-free” for 12 consecutive months, your body stops making the female hormone estrogen. Some scientists believe estrogen may help keep the lining of the bladder and urethra firm and healthy. A lack of estrogen could contribute to weakness of the bladder control muscles.

In some women there is only a slight change but for others the muscles weaken to the point where holding back even small amounts of urine is very difficult. The result is urinary incontinence or quite simply, urine leaking from the body before it should.

There are two kinds of urinary incontinence – stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Pressure from coughing, sneezing or lifting can push urine through the weakened muscle. This kind of leakage is called stress incontinence. Urge incontinence means the bladder muscles squeeze at the wrong time or all the time and cause leaks.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) taking estrogen does little to counter the effects of weakened bladder muscles. There are also concerns about taking estrogen for too long and during your post-menopausal years as there are added risks from taking estrogen for many years. Taking estrogen in small does may help thicken the bladder lining and decrease the incontinence although estrogen will not repair the weak muscles or reverse the effects of declining hormonal levels. Your doctor can suggest many other possible treatments to improve bladder control.

Talk to your health care team. You may have stress or urge incontinence, but other things could also be happening. Medicines and exercises can restore bladder control in many cases. Your doctor will give you a checkup first.

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