Decreasing oestrogen levels can weaken muscles controlling the bladder and urethra (tube through which urine is passed from the bladder). Urinary tract tissue also becomes less elastic.
These changes can lead to dysuria (painful urination), nocturia (urination at night) and urge incontinence (the need to urinate triggered by the bladder).
Another symptom which may be associated with these changes is stress incontinence, which is involuntary urine leakage occurring with coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising or sudden exertion. However, stress incontinence can have organic causes and is not alleviated by hormone replacement therapy. HRT will only have a positive effect on the bladder regarding the symptoms of bladder irritability.
What you can do
Incontinence problems can often be improved by doing regular Kegel exercises (pelvic muscle-strengthening exercises).
- Contract the pelvic muscles as if trying to close the vaginal opening.
- Hold the contraction for a count of three and then relax.
- Wait a few seconds and repeat.
Fast Kegels (squeezing and relaxing muscles as quickly as possible) can also help.
Performing several Kegels per day (try for 50) can improve bladder control - and may enhance sexual pleasure.
Depression and women
Visit Health24’s Kidney and Bladder Centre