Managing incontinence during menopause

There are many perks of getting older. The life experience you gather often gives you a good sense of self-belief and what’s really important in life. Maybe you have grown-up children and time to do all of the things you put aside during the years with small children or the hectic beginning-of-a-career stage? doesn’t have to stand in your way from doing what you love – but there are a couple of things that can be useful to know about during this new period in life.
Most people have heard about common symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes and mood swings, but a topic that is less discussed is how menopause can affect the urinary tract and bladder. Up to 50% of post-menopausal women experience urine leakage every now and then1, so it’s certainly something that we should all be speaking about more. 
In this article we’ll take a look at why menopause can cause , along with a couple of treatment options that can be helpful to ease some of the changes in your body.

Why can menopause cause incontinence and bladder weakness?

When you go through , your body stops producing as much oestrogen. Oestrogen is involved in many bodily functions and has an important part to play in keeping your bladder and urinary tract healthy. Decreased levels of oestrogen may result in symptoms like vaginal dryness, urinary frequency, urgency and urine leakage.
These symptoms are collectively known as “genitourinary syndrome of menopause” (GSM). Between 40-60% of postmenopausal women experience GSM, but few seek treatment.

Different types of incontinence that you might experience because of menopause and GSM

Symptoms of stress incontinence include urine leaks when coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or heavy lifting.
If you often feel a sudden and pressing need to urinate, or sometimes you can’t make it to the loo on time, you may be experiencing urge incontinence. You might also wake up several times at night with an urge to urinate – a condition called nocturia.

What you can do to manage incontinence during menopause

Here are some of the steps you can take to ease the symptoms of GSM and manage during menopause:
  • Strengthen your pelvic floor so that it’s more capable of controlling your bladder and little leaks.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can irritate your bladder and cause feelings of urgency.
  • Limit how much you drink in the evening so that you’re less likely to need to use the loo at night.
  • Explore products that can help with little leaks.
  • If incontinence is having a negative effect on your daily routine and quality of life, we recommend you speak to your GP to get an assessment and a proper diagnosis. They may then be able to offer you medical treatment and advice for your individual circumstance.
Find out more about how to deal with incontinence.
For additional help and support, find out more about the stages of menopause, and learn about how menopause can impact your mental health. 

Further reading