Bladder weakness during menopause and its causes


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


30 January 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I’m going to talk about a weak bladder.

Now, in the past, I’ve gone into quite a lot of detail over bladder infections, and also a sensitive bladder. But a weak bladder is really, really common in the menopause, and it’s a combination of certain things. Falling oestrogen can actually weaken the whole structure of the bladder. It can weaken the bladder valve and that tends to give you less control over the actions of the valve itself. It can also be to do just with age. It’s one of these things that happens as we get older, things tend to get a little bit weaker generally.  

Weak pelvic floor muscles

It can also be due to our pelvic floor muscles becoming weaker. The pelvic floor muscles, they’re a sheet of muscles that are slung between two sides of the hips. And they actually hold up the bladder, and the bowel and the womb as well. And if the muscles get weak, then everything can just slightly shift and that can affect bladder control as well. So you may find that you leak when you laugh, or when you’re running for the bus, or if you’re moving around a lot. Or sometimes, even just getting up suddenly can cause a little bit of leak.

Feeling of urgency

Now, you can also get a feeling of sort of urgency. You can be fine, not even, you know, thinking about anything being wrong with the bladder. And then all of a sudden, you can be out and about and then just suddenly think, “I’ve got to go to the toilet now.” And again, that’s very often due to the actual bladder valve being a lot more sensitive to the amount of urine that’s actually in the bladder.

What can you do about it?

Exercises

Now, what can you do about this? Unfortunately, this is one of these situations that is really quite difficult to put right, once it’s actually happened. The main things that you can do are the Kegel exercises, which if you go onto Google, they’ll explain how you can actually do them. And also Pilates, that can be absolutely fabulous for helping to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. And if you strengthen these muscles, then that very often slightly lifts the bladder back up and supports it better, so that you can regain a little bit more control. But these exercises do need to be done every day. And it’s not something that will actually, you know, work within a number of weeks. It can take a good few months, if not longer, to actually get a bit more control back into your bladder.

Watch what you drink

The other things that you can do are just to watch the coffee and the fizzy drinks. Anything that’s going to make your urine more acidic is going to have a compounding effect as well. One of the things we tend to do is when we get this particular bladder problem, if you find that you’re leaking a bit, the first thought is, “Oh, I won’t drink as much, and then I won’t have so much of the problem.” Again, if you don’t drink, your urine is going to get far more acidic. It’s going to irritate the bladder valve, and that’s actually going to make the symptoms worse.

So it’s really important if you have this particular condition to keep drinking water. But what to do is sip the water throughout the day. Don’t have a big glassful of water because that will very quickly end up filling up the bladder. So if you just sip it slowly, some people find that actually drinking through a straw can help as well. And have the water warm. Don’t drink cold water because that can, you know, sort of shock the body as well. And that’s not going to be very good for the bladder because we do know, you know, if you get really cold, if you get really hot, that can affect bladder function too. What can happen here as well, I talked earlier about the pelvic floor muscles, if they become too weak, then the bladder can actually slightly shift position, and this can affect bladder function as well.

Talk to your doctor

Now, if you feel that you are getting any kind of dragging feeling, if you feel, especially when you sit down there’s any pressure, you just feel that there’s a constant pressure on the bladder, or you’re actually starting to get a lot of pain and discomfort, then it’s really important just to get that checked out by the doctor. Because that could be a proper prolapse and you might actually need to get some kind of treatment for that as well.

So, I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into one of the more common symptoms of the menopause. But you know, unfortunately, it is slightly more difficult to treat and there aren’t really any over-the-counter remedies that are going to help here.

What can be treated

The other thing to remember is that yes, you know, I’ll just talk really very briefly, in that you will find that you can get more bladder infections. You can actually get an irritated bladder and these things, thankfully, can be treated. If it’s things like cystitis, you could look at herbs such as uva ursi that can sometimes work very quickly at easing the symptoms. And if you’re getting a continually irritated bladder but there’s no infection, then herbs such as cranberry or our Cranberry Complex can often be really helpful.

See you next week

So I will look forward to seeing you again next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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