I am a 45yr old female and i have recently finished going through the menopause. Recently i have been having a massive urge to use the toilet to urinate, but before i reach the loo, i have already had an accident. This has also happened a few times when i have been out shopping or with friends. As you can imagine, i am so embarrassed and afraid. I am still quite young and i have a really active busy life. It is now making me feel like i do not want to leave the house. Some of my friends have said that this could be due to the menopause. Is this right? What can i do to treat this problem? Do i speak with my doctor and consider surgery or do i go down the route of buying products? Help!!
Sorry to hear that this is having such a big impact on your life. Your friends are correct in saying that the menopause is likely causing this. Experiencing incontinence during or after going through the menopause is a surprisingly common condition. During menopause, the levels of a hormone called estrogen is reduced, causing thinning of the lining of the urethra, a tube which passes urine out of your body from the bladder. The group of muscles supporting your urethra and bladder also weakens. In addition to this, your vaginal tissue also becomes less elastic. It is therefore not a strange or rare thing to experience bladder problems after the menopause!
It sounds like you are experiencing urge incontinence. This affects between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. The most significant symptom of Urge Incontinence is having a sudden, urgent desire to pass urine. It can cause you to empty your bladder straight away, although it may not be full. This leaves you with little or no time to get the toilet. These urges can even be caused by triggers such as seeing and hearing running water.
Seeing a Doctor about your condition can do no harm, and it is wise to do this first to ensure you have no other underlying cause of your Urge Incontinence. They can then also assess the severity of your condition and which route you should go down. If your condition is related to thinning of the lining of the urethra, your Doctor may recommend estrogen cream.
You mention seeking surgery for urge incontinence. This is often only recommended when other treatment does not work. It is useful to try other options first. A common treatment you can try is doing pelvic floor exercises, which help strengthen the muscle tissue surrounding your bladder. Bladder training is another common method, which involves gradually increasing the length of time between your trips to the toilet. A physician can provide you with tips on how to prevent the urge to visit the toilet. It is useful to practice some relaxation techniques such as meditation to reduce anxiety symptoms. You should also ensure the route to the toilet in your home is easily accessible. Dietary wise, ensure you switch to a diet that eliminates caffeine. Experts recommend that you find alternatives to drinking caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola to reduce urge incontinence symptoms. If these lifestyle changes do not work for you, this is when you should ask your Doctor about methods of surgery.
Buying products is essential in managing urge incontinence. Do not settle for using menstrual products. There are a huge variety of products available in the market, including pads, pants and all-in-ones. They are available in a variety of sizes and absorbency levels to match your needs, so do not hold back on looking for the right one. As you are quite active, you may wish to go for products that offer freedom of movement such as stretchy pants.
Good luck and I hope you find the best solution for you!