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!

"There are no cookie-cutter women and no cookie-cutter answers, but there are individual answers for each of us."

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.

MODERATOR:
Before we wrap things up for today, Colette, do you have any final words for us?

BOUCHEZ:
I do have something I'd like to tell everyone and ask you to keep in mind. My book, Your Perfectly Pampered Menopause , has lots of good information that I think can help you and it goes into great depth about a lot of the problems and issues we were discussing here today. But the thing I want everyone to realize is that menopause isn't just about the ovaries and the uterus. It's not just about missing a period or having a hot flash. There are changes that go on body-wide, and one of the reasons I wrote this book was to give women a full picture of what is happening in the body, and to give you a full array of options. As a journalist I have been trained to look at all sides of the story and what I have tried to do with this book, and here today, is to give you all the options and to show you there are many sides to each of our personal stories. I hope you will keep that in mind as you seek to solve your menopause problems and symptoms. There are no cookie-cutter women and no cookie-cutter answers, but there are individual answers for each of us.

MEMBER:
Thanks Colette! Very informative!

MODERATOR:
Our thanks to Colette Bouchez for joining us today. For more information, please read Your Perfectly Pampered Menopause: Health, Beauty, and Lifestyle Advice for the Best Years of Your Life . For more discussion on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards to ask questions of our online health professionals and to share questions, comments, and support with other WebMD members.



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