Menopause: Making it the Best Years of Your Life (cont.)
The good news is there is help. First, let me explain that one of the reasons you have bladder problems in menopause is that the bladder itself has estrogen receptors just like your breast or your uterus. When those receptors are not getting fed because your estrogen levels are dropping, your bladder is affected. The thing you have to determine is the type of problem you are having. Is it "urge" incontinence -- meaning that you feel the urge to go all the time? Or is it "stress incontinence" -- meaning that when you sneeze or laugh or exercise you "leak"? The type of problem you have determines the type of treatment you need and yes, sometimes you can have both types!
One of the simplest things you can do is simply monitor your fluid intake. First drink no more than 8 ounces at a time of any fluid including soda. Next is to limit your fluid to no more than 8 cups a day; this can be a big help.
The next thing is to do a little bladder "retraining." If you are going to the bathroom frequently, try to put yourself on a schedule, and try to "hold it" a little longer each time. If you routinely go very two hours, try to hold it first to two hours and 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 -- you get the idea. You can retrain your bladder to hold more fluid.
You can also try the infamous Kegel exercise; the same one you do after childbirth can be a major help during menopause. It helps tone the muscles of the bladder that is affected by estrogen loss. As the estrogen drops, these muscles weaken somewhat, which is what is causing the problems. By strengthening those muscles via exercise, you can often overcome some of the control problems you develop when estrogen levels drop.
I would try all these measure before turning to medications. But if they don't help then there are some drugs available that can help. I go into that in the book but you can also talk to your doctor.
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