Understanding the Link Between Menopause and Incontinence

Understanding the Link Between Menopause and Incontinence

Each year in the United States, one million women experience menopause, leaving many of them to face some combination of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain, incontinence, and more.

To say that menopause can cast a wide net is an understatement. If you’re feeling the effects of menopause in the form of urinary incontinence, we want you to know you’re far from alone — it affects about half of postmenopausal women.

To explain the connection, Arizona Urology’s team of experts provides a closer look at several ways menopause and urinary incontinence are linked. Let’s take a look.

The loss of hormones

When you transition through menopause, your ovaries stop releasing eggs, which also means they stop producing estrogen and progesterone hormones. These hormones mainly tasked themselves with reproductive duties but also influenced other areas of your health.

For example, your reproductive hormones help to keep your tissues healthy and strong, which includes those that keep your pelvic organs in place — your pelvic floor. If this supportive tissue weakens after menopause, your bladder can shift downward, creating issues with stress incontinence.

As well, with the reduction in estrogen, the lining of your urethra can thin, which can also lead to issues with incontinence.

This hormonal deficit goes a long way toward explaining why urinary incontinence is twice as prevalent in women.

The coincidence of age

Above, we looked at some of the more direct links between menopause and incontinence, but the connection is also coincidental. The average age of menopause is about 51, and this advancing age can also lend itself to incontinence.

While your hormones play some role in keeping your tissues strong, the fact is that all tissues can naturally weaken with age, including your pelvic floor support.

Your bladder can also become weaker and less able to hold urine effectively, leading to incontinence.

Treating your postmenopausal urinary incontinence

While it may seem like there is no good news when it comes to menopause or aging, we do have some — there are options for postmenopausal urinary incontinence.

For example, if we find that a weak pelvic floor and pelvic organ prolapse are responsible for your urinary incontinence, we first try to strengthen this floor through exercises. If this approach doesn't work, we can turn to pelvic floor reconstruction.

If your pelvic floor isn’t to blame for urinary incontinence, we can try medications and behavioral training to address the problem.

Or, if the incontinence is nerve-related and involves signaling to your bladder, we can treat the issue with an InterStim® device, which is like a pacemaker for your bladder.

As you can see, through our female urology services, we have no shortage of options to tackle your urinary incontinence so that you can regain your quality of life.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of your postmenopausal urinary incontinence, please contact one of our locations in Goodyear, Gilbert, or Glendale, Arizona, to set up an appointment.


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