Hi, we’re Jude. We’re smashing body taboos and getting people talking about the stuff no one talks about.
For words you might want to know more
Menopause is when a woman stops having periods. Menopause is officially the point in time after 12 consecutive months of not having a period. It's a natural part of ageing, the average age for reaching menopause is 51 but it can happen earlier or later.
The involuntary leakage of urine is triggered by activities such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, running or jumping. Despite the name, stress incontinence is not caused by emotional stress, but by weak pelvic floor muscles.
The involuntary leakage of urine caused by a sudden, intense urge to pee.
Overactive bladder (OAB) is when the muscle that signals that the bladder is full starts over-reacting and sending messages to the brain to start emptying. This is why it may feel like your bladder cannot hold as much fluid as it should, and feels full even when it’s not.
Nocturia is a condition that causes you to wake up during the night to pee.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect your bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection). They happen when harmful bacteria like E. coli enter your urinary tract and cause infection.
Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. It can last for up to 10 years, but the average time that a woman spends in perimenopause is 4 years.
A group of muscles shaped like a hammock that stretches from the pubic bone to the tail bone and supports your pelvic organs, including the bladder.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment to relieve symptoms of menopause. It replaces hormones that decrease as you approach menopause.
Vaginal mesh surgery is where a strip of synthetic mesh is inserted behind the urethra to support it.
Sling surgery is the most common surgery used to treat urinary stress incontinence. It involves putting a sling (made of mesh or human tissue) under the urethra. The sling is like a hammock that lifts and supports your urethra and the neck of your bladder (where your bladder connects to your urethra) to help prevent leaks.
On top of hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings, bladder problems are one of the most experienced symptoms of menopause.
Whether it’s needing to go more often or accidentally weeing yourself, urinary incontinence is really common during perimenopause and menopause — but it’s definitely not spoken about enough.
Some signs you may be experiencing incontinence during menopause are:
Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise (stress incontinence)
Feeling a sudden, intense need to pass urine (urge incontinence or overactive bladder)
getting up often during the night to pass urine (nocturia)
frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Although incontinence is often a byproduct of menopause, bladder leaks don’t have to be a “normal part of ageing”. Just because menopause is unavoidable doesn’t mean you have to suffer the symptoms in silence.
Keep reading to learn more about incontinence, why it’s common in menopause, and how you can manage bladder leaks.
During perimenopause and menopause, your body naturally stops producing the hormone oestrogen.
Oestrogen plays a key role in the health of your urinary and reproductive systems. The vagina, vulva, and urinary tract are packed with estrogen receptors, so as oestrogen levels drop your pelvic organs can really suffer. Declining estrogen can mean that:
The lining of your bladder and urethra become thinner and less elastic
Pelvic floor muscles become weaker
Vaginal tissues become thinner, drier and less elastic
As the lining of your bladder and urinary tract become thinner and your pelvic floor weakens, it becomes harder to hold in urine, making you more susceptible to bladder leaks.
Declining levels of estrogen can cause other problems, such as:
Pelvic organ prolapse. This is when the muscles in your pelvic floor weaken, causing the uterus or bladder to move out of place and bulge on your vaginal wall.
UTIs. Lower levels of estrogen can thin the lining of your vagina and urinary tract, making it more susceptible to harmful bacteria. It can also affect your vaginal pH, making your urinary tract more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria.
Bladder leaks don’t have to be an inevitable part of ageing, regardless of their severity.
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to improve bladder control during perimenopause and menopause.
Bladder training is a type of behaviour therapy done with the help of a specially trained expert used to treat incontinence.
Bladder training teaches you to gradually hold in pee to prevent unwanted leaks.
Pelvic floor exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home, without the supervision of a doctor. Check out our expert tips on how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Oxybutynin, mirabegron and Botox (yes, you read that correctly!) help your bladder relax and stop it from being overactive.
Small changes like eating more fibre, staying hydrated, cutting back on bladder irritants (like caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners) and exercising regularly can all help improve bladder health.
Although HRT is not usually prescribed as a treatment for incontinence, speak to your doctor about HRT if you’re experiencing other bothersome symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
In very rare cases, procedures like mesh surgery or sling surgery may be considered when other treatment options haven’t worked.
At Jude, we don’t believe poor bladder health should be a “normal” part of ageing. That’s why we created the Bladder Care Handbook: our guide to life’s trickly moments. Download your free copy here for expert tips on how to look after your bladder during menopause and beyond.