Although women can experience urinary incontinence (UI) during their life, the frequency of UI tends to occur more often when you get older. This loss of bladder control stems from hormonal changes that affect muscle strength in your pelvic area. Women who are pregnant, giving birth, or going through menopause are all likely to have urinary incontinence. So, does menopause cause urinary incontinence? It is a contributing factor, but there is more to it.
Types Of Urinary Incontinence
When you lose the muscle strength to control your bladder, this is not only an embarrassing situation, but it is a medical problem that can be treated.
As women get closer to menopause, estrogen levels drop. This is the hormone that keeps your bladder and urethra healthy, and consequently, less estrogen causes pelvic floor muscles to become weak. As estrogen levels continue to drop during menopause, UI symptoms can become worse.
Stress Incontinence is the more common of the two types, and some might consider it the less severe version. Weakened muscles from aging cannot prevent leakage of urine when a woman laughs, coughs, sneezes, or lifts heavy objects. Most of the time this involuntary leakage is a few drops of urine, but it can become a full loss of control.
Urge Incontinence is more pronounced and causes women to lose control entirely or too quickly. They feel the urge to go quite suddenly and are not able to reach a bathroom in time. Sometimes you can feel a constant urge to pee known as overactive bladder.
Other Factors Beyond Menopause
Menopause is not the only consideration when looking for a cause of urinary incontinence. Let’s be clear, it is not an inevitable part of aging and shouldn’t be considered normal or just accepted. Sometimes it is a symptom of something else.
Menopause is not the only cause for urinary incontinence. The following problems or situations can increase your risk of UI:
- Drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages fill your bladder quickly, thus making you urinate frequently.
- Being overweight increases the risk of UI by putting pressure on your bladder
- Chronic constipation weakens pelvic floor muscles
- Infections in the urinary tract can cause UI, but after treatment it should improve
- Medications like steroids and diuretics
- Nerve damage can interfere with signals from your bladder to your brain and you don’t feel any urge to urinate leading to UI
Regardless of your age, you can change some of these contributing factors yourself, like losing weight or doing exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles, but multiple treatments are also available to reduce the symptoms of UI.