Hands up if you’ve ever peed your pants a little bit when you coughed. Or sneezed. Maybe you’ve had to give up jogging or jumping on the trampoline with your kids and grandkids for the same reason. If you’ve experienced this, please know you’re not alone. This is called urinary incontinence. And while urinary incontinence causes shame and embarrassment — it is a very common condition. By most estimates, about 2 of 5 postmenopausal women deal with it. (1)
That doesn’t mean you’ve got to just live with it, though. You deserve to sneeze in public without fear of peezing, girlfriend.
Let’s talk about the symptoms, causes, and solutions for urinary incontinence.
Urinary Incontinence Types
Urinary incontinence is when your body ‘leaks’ urine. Sometimes, we refer to it as leaky bladder. It can look like an involuntary squirt when you put pressure on your pelvic floor by sneezing or coughing. It can also look like having to run to the bathroom often, or very quickly.
Here are the different types of urinary incontinence. (2)
Urge, or urgency incontinence is when you very suddenly feel an intense need to urinate, and you lose your bladder before you can make it to the bathroom.
Why do I pee when I cough? Why do I pee every time I sneeze? These are two of the big questions I hear from women in perimenopause and menopause. When this happens, this is what’s known as stress incontinence. In other words, stress incontinence is when you leak because there’s pressure on your pelvic floor from coughing, sneezing, or exertion.
Mixed urinary incontinence refers to a situation where you have a mixture of both stress and urge incontinence at the same time.
Functional incontinence happens when you can’t physically make it to the toilet (because you can’t walk there on your own, or you have another physical ailment causing your incontinence).
Overflow incontinence is when you can’t empty your bladder fully — so it overflows and you leak urine.
Overactive Bladder Vs Incontinence
Women often complain to me that they are peeing 20 times a day or peeing a lot at night. This is what’s referred to as overactive bladder. Sometimes, the term overactive bladder is used interchangeably with urge incontinence.
Technically, overactive bladder is a term used to describe symptoms, and not an actual disease.
If you have an overactive bladder you may feel like you need to pee suddenly and very urgently. You may need to urinate often throughout the day. You may not necessarily have leaking, but sometimes overactive bladder and incontinence occur at the same time.
Symptoms Of Urinary Incontinence
So, how do you know if you have urinary incontinence? The most common symptoms of urinary incontinence include:
- Peeing a little when you laugh, cough, sneeze, lift something heavy, jump, or run
- Having to speed to the toilet when you get the urge to pee
- Planning your outings carefully so you don’t end up far away from a bathroom
- Urinating often, including during the night
Urinary Incontinence Causes
The two most common types of incontinence — urge and stress incontinence — are related to low estrogen levels. In fact, research indicates 70% of women correlate the beginning of their urinary incontinence struggles with menopause. (3)
Another big cause of urinary incontinence is pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction happens when the muscles of your pelvic floor become either too weak or too engaged. Pelvic floor weakness is also associated with lowered estrogen levels. It can also be tied to childbirth. (4)
Urinary Incontinence In Menopause
As you age, your body stops preparing to get pregnant every month. You stop ovulating regularly. You stop getting your period as often, and your ovaries stop producing so much estrogen as a result.
Unfortunately, this drop in estrogen means your body starts to feel different in many ways. Think hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, and mood changes.
Your urethra, vagina, and vulva sorely miss the abundance of estrogen that marks your reproductive years. Once your body stops making plentiful amounts of estrogen, these tissues become thinner and dry out. This leads to those ‘menopause urinary tract infections’ and urinary incontinence. This is why for many women, bladder incontinence and menopause seem to go hand in hand.
What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction, or pelvic floor disorder, is another common reason women experience menopausal urinary incontinence.
Your pelvic floor is the set of muscles that sit at the base of your pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles form a kind of hammock that helps “hold up” your internal organs, including your bladder. (5)
Your vagina, your urethra (the duct that moves urine out of your body), and your anus (the opening that moves solid waste out of your body) all pass through the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor is strong and stable, these three structures all puncture the pelvic floor like a straw does the lid of a fast-food soda cup. When the pelvic floor is weak and wobbly, your urethra isn’t held up properly — and that’s when urine can leak through.
Just like your vaginal and vulvar tissues, the pelvic floor relies on estrogen to stay at its best. So when menopause causes estrogen levels to drop, the pelvic floor suffers. (6)
Women who have delivered a baby (especially more than one baby) are also apt to suffer from pelvic floor disorders. (7)
For some women, pelvic floor therapy (a type of physical therapy for the pelvic floor) and/or Kegels can help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and abate the symptoms of urinary incontinence.
These urinary incontinence exercises can be done pretty easily in the comfort of your own home.
Is Urinary Incontinence A Normal Part Of Aging?
While urinary incontinence is very common, especially as we age, it is not a “normal” or “required” part of aging.
This is a misconception that often keeps women from searching for relief — because they think there’s nothing you can do about it. We often shy away from talking about urinary incontinence because it can get embarrassing. But the more we share, the more everyone benefits.
How To Stop Urinary Incontinence
Peeing when you cough is not something you just have to live with. And urinary incontinence treatment doesn’t have to involve synthetic hormones, either.
In fact, thousands of women have found relief from their fear of sneezing in public with Julva® — my patented “down there” cream that supports the body’s natural production of estrogen.
Because it’s formulated with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a natural bioidentical precursor to estrogen, it gives your body the building blocks it needs to start pumping up estrogen production again. This leaves your vagina and vulva feeling restored and juicy. And it can even help you when it comes to exercising without fear of peeing your pants.
Remember when I said earlier that 70% of women correlate their incontinence to the onset of menopause? That’s because your tissues down there need estrogen to feel their best. When you apply Julva® to your vulva, those tissues absorb that DHEA goodness, and then your body uses that DHEA to make estrogen. The potential increase in estrogen helps your tissues feel strong again, and that helps your bladder and urethra feel happy again.
Pair Julva® with a few Kegels for pelvic floor strength, and there will be no stopping you!