During perimenopause, which is like the launching pad into full menopause, hormonal fluctuations and deficiencies can cause all kinds of symptoms, including incontinence. When you have to go, which is frequently, you have to go now and there is no way you can hold it.
There are three types of incontinence, including urge incontinence, stress incontinence and overflow incontinence, according to 34-menopause-symptoms.com. Urge incontinence also goes by the name of over-active bladder, reflex incontinence and spastic bladder. This is when you have an intense and sudden urge to pee and the urine gushes out. You may only have a fleeting indication that you have to urinate when your bladder contracts, but not enough notice to get to the bathroom. Even if you do make it to the bathroom, the pee is likely to come out before you get your pants down. This type of incontinence is characterized by very frequent urination and going to the bathroom more than twice a night.
Menopausal women mostly experience stress incontinence, where involuntary leakage occurs. This can happen when you sneeze or laugh or lift something. When we engage in these activities, sudden pressure is applied to the walls of the bladder. The walls squeeze the bladder, causing the urine to leak out. Older women experience this because pelvic muscles grow weaker as we age. When those muscles weaken, this weakens the walls between the vagina and the bladder.
If you are heading to the bathroom to urinate a lot and if you are constantly dribbling urine, this is overflow incontinence. It happens when a woman doesn't completely empty her bladder when she goes to the bathroom. The bladder then fills up again, overflows and leakage results. If you have this condition, you may produce a weak stream of pee and may never feel as though you've completely emptied your bladder.
Estrogen Deficiency and Aging
As we age, our urethra and the tissues in our vagina lose their elasticity, just like the skin on our face, because of the deficiency of estrogen. This can cause frequent and urgent urination, according to the Mayo Clinic. The bladder actually becomes flabby and weak, according to the book "Natural Menopause Remedies" by Nadine Taylor, M.S., R.D. In addition, the muscles that support the pelvic organs lose their tone and this allows the urethra to sag.
Stress incontinence, which is the bane of menopausal woman, is caused by a hormonal imbalance. The bladder gets weak because of estrogen deficiency. Estrogen, when it was abundant, maintained the health of the urinary track. Of course, other factors can cause incontinence including medications, such as diuretics, which are water pills. Tranquilizers may make you urinate more often. If you have an infection, it can cause frequent peeing. Weight gain and previous pregnancies can also cause incontinence as can depression, immobility, heart problems, and nerve damage that is the result of a stroke or diabetes.
Try doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles that control the bladder, according to the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Try to stop or start the flow of urine by squeezing these muscles but only do this occasionally. If you regularly squeeze these muscles, it will strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the uterus, bladder and bowel, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you are uncertain which muscles to squeeze, ask your physician for direction.