Managing Incontinence During Menopause
Uh-oh. You know that feeling. You’ve just sneezed, coughed or cackled with laughter or picked up a heavy bag and now there’s a warm sensation in your underwear which tells you your bladder control has failed you again.
Incontinence is one of those things which many women seem to accept as a rite of passage, an uncomfortable and embarrassing inevitability of getting older.
You might joke about it with your friends but the reality of worrying about feeling clean and fresh can cause real distress as the odd accident turns into regular leakage.
There really is no reason to be embarrassed about leakage. Many people think urinary incontinence is only an issue for the heavily pregnant or old and infirm but in fact 30-70 per cent of women in peri-menopause and menopause suffer from some form of urinary incontinence. Ladies – you are not alone!
So are you finding that you bypass the sanitary product aisle and instead have started tucking packets of incontinence pads under your groceries instead of sanitary pads and tampons?
Don’t just accept incontinence (and pads) as the new norm – there are different ways of treating or coping with different types of incontinence and it might be helpful to firstly identify what might be the main cause of your incontinence and learn what you can do to improve the situation.
This is the type most women suffer from during pregnancy. When I was pregnant my friend made me laugh like a hyena. I had to beg her to stop and do that little girl thing of holding myself to stop myself from peeing.
Many types of physical activity can cause leakage with this kind of incontinence – laughing, coughing, sneezing, lifting, jumping, running or even just bending over can result in damp panties.
This is the reason midwives and OBGyns constantly remind us to do our pelvic floor/Kegel exercises, as stress incontinence is caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles.
It’s never too late to start the exercises . They are not only good for improving bladder control but also for helping minor prolapses which are also common during menopause (can you tell I’m speaking from experience?).
Bear in mind it can take up to three months to see results from this kind of internal work out.
If you have never been able to master the “elevator going up” technique of exercising your vaginal muscles you could ask your healthcare provider to teach you or talk to you about Kegel exercise gadgets which you insert like a tampon and can make exercising easier.