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There’s Help for Incontinence

Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and the rest of the symptoms that accompany menopause can be an inconvenience to the woman experiencing them. At their worst, they are extremely uncomfortable and can greatly disrupt a woman's life. Nothing could be truer of incontinence.

Definition
Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine from the body.
This loss can occur slowly, or it can flow out quickly, depending on the woman. This involuntary leakage is due to changes that occur in a woman's body caused by decreased production of estrogen as a woman enters menopause. Estrogen keeps the urethra and bladder healthy and promotes blood flow to the pelvic muscles.HFN 046 TheresHelpForIncontinence 2 F14538293

As your estrogen levels decrease, the deterioration and weakening of these areas can cause leakage. Sneezing, laughing, or lifting something heavy can cause urine to overcome pelvic muscles that have become weak. This type of leakage is called stress incontinence. Another type is urge incontinence, which occurs when the muscles that control the bladder squeeze at the incorrect time.

Additional Causes
It's important to know that incontinence is not always a symptom of menopause. Infections, nerve damage, cigarette smoking, diuretics, pregnancies, and the consumption of alcohol can all cause or contribute to incontinence. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose the cause of your incontinence.

Remedies
The easiest and most nonintrusive way of overcoming incontinence is a change of diet. There is no diet that can magically cure incontinence, but avoiding certain substances such as caffeine and alcohol that stimulate the bladder can help. If you have only a slight leakage, wear a panty liner and carry some extras in your purse.

The voluntary contraction and relaxation of the muscles that make up the pelvic floor of a woman's body, also known as Kegel exercises, can also help reduce incontinence. By performing these exercises, you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and do something beneficial to treat the condition of incontinence.

To do a Kegel, contract your pelvic muscles as if you were stopping a normal flow of urine and hold it for a count of three. Do three sets of 15 Kegels a day, making sure you're only contracting your pelvic muscles, not your abdomen or thighs. You can tell if you'e doing the exercise correctly if you feel a "pulling up" sensation when you contract your muscles.

There are also prescription drugs available to treat incontinence, including anticholinergics, topical estrogen, imipramine, and duloxetine. If a doctor prescribes one for you, it will usually be in conjunction with the remedies listed above.

In more extreme situations, there are medical procedures available, such as the insertion of bladder swings or pessaries into the body to help relieve bladder pressure. Your doctor can tell you what lifestyle changes and medical procedures are the most appropriate for your specific situation.

Seeing a Doctor
For many women, incontinence can be an embarrassing subject, and they choose not to talk about it with a doctor. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Incontinence occurs in roughly 40% of menopausal women and is experienced by thousands of people that aren't even menopausal, including men. Urinary incontinence is a condition that is often solvable, so if you are going through it, be sure and talk about it with your doctor. ♀

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