Is Menopause to Blame for My Leaky Bladder?

Monday, 29 Apr 2013 09:58 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: What causes a leaky bladder? I just passed menopause and am wondering if that’s why I have a frequent urge to urinate?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:

Yes. Many women lose some strength and integrity of their pelvic floor musculature as they reach menopause, resulting in varying degrees of incontinence.

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For most healthy men and women, urinary continence is mainly affected by your bladder capacity — the size of your "tank" — and the physical environment supporting the bladder.
Remember that the bladder is a hollow muscular container for urine and is one way our body rids itself of toxins and maintains the sodium and potassium balance needed for healthy bodily function.

Frequency urges to urinate are often tied to the following:

  • A small bladder capacity, excessively distended bladder, and/or infections or inflammation of the bladder lining.
  • Conditions where the pelvic floor has lost support, usually in women after surgery, multiple births, or physical factors such as with uterine or bowel prolapse.
  • Neurological, emotional, and drug-, alcohol- or caffeine-related issues that can send increased signals to the bladder to empty.
  • Certain medical conditions associated with excess urination, such as diabetes.
In older men, urinary leakage can also occur as a result of an enlarged prostate impinging on the tube leading from the bladder, called the urethra. Prostate surgery may also cause incontinence in men.

In women, the pelvic floor often "relaxes" in women as a result of childbirth, surgery, and weakness of pelvic structures; the bladder can also tip forward and down, producing continence problems.

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Be sure to see your doctor to have your incontinence managed, either with medication, exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor (such as Kegel exercises).

And, remember, frequency of urination should always be addressed, as it may also be a sign of infection or underlying condition such as diabetes. There are many options available that will help or relieve this condition

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