Senior woman holding hand up signaling stop

Hold It! We Need to Talk about Encountering Incontinence

At the onset of menopause, some women have trouble “holding it,” leaking urine unexpectedly. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know how frustrating and embarrassing it can be.

If you’re having a difficult time “holding it,” you may be incontinent. Don’t be frightened, you are not alone. Urinary incontinence, the unwanted leakage of urine, is common and has a big impact on those effected. In fact, over 50% of women at menopausal age and older, may experience some degree of incontinence during their lives. Yet, the average woman waits far too long to discuss it – even with a healthcare provider (HCP). If left untreated, incontinence can seriously affect your quality of life.

Let’s discuss some factors that may lead to incontinence:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth – with each pregnancy there is an increased risk.
  • Family history –women whose mothers or sisters have, or had incontinence, they may be more likely to develop it.
  • Menopause – the decline of estrogen may affect the organs and urinary tract.
  • Hysterectomies
  • Surgery to the lower spine or pelvic area
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain/Being overweight – being overweight puts increased pressure on your bladder, muscles, nerves which allows them to weaken and leak urine

Some things that worsen incontinence are:

  • Smoking
  • Consuming alcohol and caffeinated beverages
  • Certain irritating foods like acidic fruits and fruit juices
  • Taking diuretic medication
  • Taking sleeping medications

If left untreated, incontinence can seriously affect your quality of life.

What next? There are ways to get some relief from bladder problems. Conditions such as incontinence are not something you just have to live with, or accept as “normal.” If you’re looking to relieve your symptoms as soon as possible and tackle the issue head-on, have a conversation with your doctor about the different options that can help manage symptoms. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and find the best possible treatment for your lifestyle and health needs.

Some of the options your doctor may discuss with you include:

  • Lifestyle changes – self-help measures that you can take to improve your condition, such as:
    o Paying attention to the amount of fluids you drink
    o Avoiding irritating foods and beverages. Caffeine and alcohol fall in this category
    o Losing weight
  • Behavioral modification
    o Bladder training which helps to delay urination when you have the urge to go
    o Pelvic floor exercises known as Kegels
  • Medications are sometimes prescribed to help manage incontinence
    o Also, some of your other medications may need to be adjusted, as they could be contributing to incontinence
  • Devices and injections

Incontinence doesn’t have to be a private issue. Don’t let it defeat you and negatively affect your life. There’s no reason to sit and wait and to accept that nothing can be done. The key message is don’t be embarrassed. There are plenty of healthcare providers who specialize in these conditions and want to help you find the best treatment option(s) to best help manage your symptoms. So, talk to your doctor about a personalized plan to help you hold it!