An introduction to weak bladder and menopause
Having a weak bladder can be an embarrassing condition which can affect your day-to-day living, especially if you have to plan your day around toilet stops. Many women do not realise that their condition may be a symptom of the menopause.
A weak bladder results in urinary incontinence, a condition where you unintentionally pass urine. The bladder is kept closed by pelvic floor muscles. When the bladder is full, a signal is sent to the brain to tell it to allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax when you are ready. Problems can lie either with the messaging system to the brain, or with the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. In the case of the menopause, urinary incontinence is likely to arise because of weakened pelvic muscles.
Why does the menopause cause a weak bladder?
During the menopause, your hormone levels begin to fluctuate, and this can have unexpected effects on your body. Most notably, the levels of the hormone oestrogen drop. Oestrogen is important for keeping your urethra and bladder healthy. A significant reduction in the level of this hormone may mean that your pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken. When you put them under strain, such as when you laugh or cough, you may be unable to prevent urination.
In addition, you may be more prone to developing urine infections. Oestrogen keeps the urinary tract tissue stronger and more able to fight off bacteria. When the levels of oestrogen drop, you are more susceptible to developing an infection.
What home remedies are there for a weak bladder?
Home remedies for a weak bladder focus on strengthening the pelvic muscles, and if this can be achieved, then the most effective relief is likely to be found.
Kegel Exercises are effective and discrete, and should be carried out several times a day. It is important that you can identify which muscles you are trying to strengthen. If you can stop urinating midstream, then these are the right muscles.
You should not stop urination midstream too often, as this will weaken the muscles in the long run. Instead, once you have identified the muscles, you should practice relaxing and contracting them on an empty bladder.
- For best results, you should lie on your back or sit in a chair and quickly relax and contract your pelvic muscles 10 times
- This should only take about 10 seconds
- Perform the same exercise but with slow contractions, taking about 50 seconds
- Try doing these three or four times each day.
Additionally, what you eat can affect your bladder. Caffeine is notorious for worsening incontinence, as it acts as a diuretic. Additionally, artificial sweeteners can result in an increasing need to urinate. Instead you should aim to maintain a healthy weight, as this puts less pressure on your pelvic muscles, and a healthy diet, as this will help to balance the levels of fluids in your body.
Are there herbal remedies to help me?
There are certain herbal remedies you can use alongside home remedies to help with your weak bladder. Uva-ursi, also known as Bearberry, is one of Alfred Vogel’s first herbal remedies. It has antiseptic properties and is effective in aiding urinary tract health.
What is important to remember is that your weak bladder may be a symptom of the menopause, and so looking for support with the menopause is likely to bring relief from these other symptoms. Soy isoflavones mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body, reducing the severity of menopause symptoms. It can be found in herbal remedies such as our Menopause Support supplement.
What about conventional remedies?
If you are concerned about your condition, or it is interfering with your daily life, then it is worth speaking to your doctor. If you have not found home and herbal remedies to be effective, then your doctor may recommend certain types of medication such as oxybutynin or vesicare. If your incontinence is severe, your doctor may suggest various types of surgery, but will discuss with you if this is the most appropriate form of treatment.