As I discussed in an earlier blog on estrogen, our reproductive hormones naturally decline over the course of a women’s life (and men’s hormones decline too, of course!).
And along with the hot flashes, mood changes, skin changes and other menopause-related symptoms, natural downward shifts in estrogen cause a lot of our issues “down there”.
As we age, along with sometimes painful and embarrassing vaginal issues, such as discharge and dryness, many of us will suffer at some point from incontinence.
Honestly, I have delivered 4 babies and this is true for us in the postpartum period as well. YUCK…even the word "incontinence" sounds like it is something you don’t want to experience…
Yet many women - and men - do. And many needlessly do, which I will get to in just a bit.
Although estimates vary, the Mayo Clinic has estimated that,
Nearly 20 million people in the US suffer from urinary incontinence. They also estimate 85% of these are women.
Incontinence is the involuntary loss of one’s bladder control.
There are a couple of different types of incontinence, with the most common being “stress incontinence”.
Women may suffer from one or all of these. It's a real problem when it keeps you from doing the things you love to do or getting the rest you need.
Incontinence occurs primarily due to two things:
As you can see, at least some of these are the result of decisions YOU make! Some worth it, others not so much.
Just like with the other muscles in your body, there are ways to decrease or even halt many incontinence issues through exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight. There is a natural hormone solution that is also available that further strengthens the supporting musculature.
Here are the things you CAN DO NOW.
Keep a “bladder journal”: I suggest that if you are experiencing leakage that you start to keep a bladder journal. When are you having the problem? Is your issue at night? Do you experience it while you are doing certain things like exercising? Have you just had something, in particular, to eat or drink? (Eliminating diuretic beverages such as coffee and tea, as well as bladder irritants such as citrus juice, might be of help). Do you feel like you absolutely have to pee, but then you don’t once you have the chance? All of this info will be handy for you to discuss with your doctor.
Pelvic floor exercises! If you aren’t doing pelvic floor exercises, please start. And talk with your doctor about these exercises as well as diet/lifestyle changes you might want to make.
In cases of urge incontinence your doctor may also want you to do some “bladder training”.
Bladder training: Your doctor may suggest you attempt to work at “re-training” your bladder to address issues with urge incontinence. Holding the urine for a few minutes after you feel the urge and then slowly increasing that interval of a period of time may be of help.
Julva restorative cream with DHEA: Julva is a non-prescription cream containing natural DHEA, plant stem cells, and oils… it helps improve the vagina muscles but guess what else it does? It improves dryness and irritation around the vulva area, reduces pain during intercourse… and improves your arousal and libido! (research proves it!)
So if you’ve been dealing with incontinence you may have tried (or be thinking of trying) either estrogen therapy, surgery or other treatment options. I’ll discuss each briefly.
As a long time physician I have always lived by the adage that doctors should have their patients use natural healing methods prior to invasive measures. I have so many stories of patients who came to me thinking they needed surgery for organ prolapse or incontinence, only to find that once I put them on natural hormones for a few weeks (to ensure their vaginal tissue was optimal for surgery)… that they no longer needed the surgery! I always say.
Do your homework and discuss your options with your doctor. But try the natural (and easiest… definitely easier than surgery!) stuff first! Pelvic floor exercises done correctly can make a big difference.… and try my Julva feminine cream.
Hormone replacement therapy (oral doses of estrogen) – While oral estrogen therapy can be helpful for hot flashes as the major issue, it really hasn’t been found to significantly resolve vaginal atrophy issues or incontinence. It also isn’t recommended for women having had breast cancer. Some 40% of women receiving oral estrogen therapy continue to have their persistent vaginal symptoms (dryness, pain, irritation, etc.). Some studies have also found oral estrogen therapy has been associated with worsening urinary incontinence.
Estrogen or vaginal tablets – local estrogen has also not been found to improve incontinence as it works on the top mucosal layer of the vaginal tissue and does not help the deeper musculature.
There are a number out there especially for urge incontinence, but I prefer to find a more natural approach with no side effects.
So many products! I don’t mind a panty-liner… but inserts, shields and diapers! NO… Who wants to live with that. DO THE NATURAL STUFF FIRST and you may not need all of these new products, which now include:
I encourage you to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing incontinence or other sexual health issues... but remember there are things that you can start TODAY to improve your health.
In 2 minutes flat, you’ll get a score (from 0 to 70 – where lower is better) that represents an assessment of your sexual and pelvic health. Once you know your starting number, it’s much easier to improve.
Take some time and look around my blog and website for other important feminine health topics. And don’t forget to also Join me on Facebook… I do LIVE discussions regularly there!
Let’s talk about our pelvic floor muscles & kegel exercises. Exercising our pelvic floor muscles are important no matter how old we are! But many women do them wrong.
Blood sugar, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, obesity and diabetes may all increase your risk of incontinence, or urinary leakage. Learn natural solutions.