The result of weakened pelvic muscles

Urinary incontinence is a seldom discussed sign of menopause.


What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the result of weakened pelvic muscles. Many women experience this after giving birth but don’t associate it with menopause.

What causes urinary incontinence during menopause?

The hormone estrogen plays an important role in helping to keep our bladders and urethra healthy and functioning correctly. As estrogen levels begin to drop during menopause the pelvic muscles weaken so they are unable to control the bladder. The degree of incontinence may worsen as estrogen levels continue to drop.

Different types of urinary incontinence

Stress incontinence refers to bladder leakage when you cough, exercise, sneeze, laugh, or lift something heavy. An overactive bladder, when the muscles dont relax or squeeze incorrectly, is responsible for urge incontinence – those emabarrassing moments when you just cannot control the urge to urinate. Overflow incontinence is when the bladder doesn’t completely empty causing urine dribbling, weak stream and wanting to urinate at night.

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This is the time when menstruation is well and truly over, the ovaries have stopped producing high levels of sex hormones and for many ladies, perimenopause symptoms subside.

Estrogen has protective qualities and the diminished levels mean organs such as your brain, heart and bones become more vulnerable. It’s also a key lubricant so your lips may become drier, your joints less supple and your vagina might be drier. In addition, your thyroid, digestion, insulin, cortisol and weight may alter.

At this juncture, a woman might experience an increase in the signs of reduced estrogen but she should have a decrease of perimenopause symptoms. That said, some women will experience symptoms like hot flushes for years or even the rest of their lives.


Peri = ‘near’

Most females begin to experience the symptoms of perimenopause in their mid-forties. Your progesterone levels decline from your mid-30s but it’s generally from around 40 that the rest of your sex hormones begin to follow suit. 

Perimenopause is a different experience for every woman and some women may barely notice it. The first indicators are usually changes to the monthly cycle. This means that for some ladies, this can be accompanied by things like sore breasts, mood swings, weight gain around the belly, and fatigue as time goes on.

For those with symptoms it can be a challenging time physically, mentally and emotionally.

Importantly, perimenopause lasts – on average – four to 10 years. The transition is usually a gradual process and many women enter perimenopause without realising.