You’ve mastered the art of crossing your legs at just the right moment: the moment before a cough, a sneeze, or a raucous laugh. Except sometimes you don’t cross hard enough. Or soon enough. And then you feel it. Maybe it’s just a few drops. Maybe more. But you’ve leaked urine. Again.
You might also have symptoms such as:
- Increased urge to urinate
- Urinating dribbles at a time
- Never feeling like your bladder’s empty
- Getting up multiple times a night to pee
- Not quite making it to the toilet on time
Whether you talk about your problem with your friends or not, most of your peers are probably struggling with the same issue. So, does that mean it’s “normal” to leak urine once you head into perimenopause and menopause? Or is “normal” a concept from the past that has no place in your life when it comes to aging?
If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, our expert OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, want to help. They and our team at Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville offer a number of remedies for incontinence at our two Jacksonville, Florida, locations. Here’s what to do.
Make sure you don’t have an infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) irritates your bladder. About 60% of women have at least one UTI in their lifetime, according to the Urology Care Foundation.
Symptoms of a UTI may include:
- Bladder pain
- Constant urge to urinate
- Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
When we evaluate you for urinary incontinence, we also administer a blood test to check for a UTI or kidney infection. If you have an infection, we prescribe a course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria that caused it.
Strengthen your pelvic floor
Most cases of age-related urinary incontinence in women are due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor is a kind of muscular hammock that supports your bladder, uterus, and other urogenital organs. Just as your skin starts to sag, so do your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and organs themselves.
In fact, if you’re overweight, one of the best things you can do for your pelvic floor is to shed those extra pounds so that you take the stress off of your muscles. If you need help losing weight and keeping it off, we recommend medically supervised weight loss.
Kegel exercises are the best and most common way to strengthen your pelvic floor. However, they’re easy to do incorrectly. Many women push their muscles instead of contracting them or contract their abdominal or buttocks muscles instead of their vagina. Doing Kegels the wrong way can actually make your incontinence worse.
Imagine pulling something up into your vagina, almost as if it’s a drinking straw. Hold for a count or two. Repeat. To be sure you perform Kegels correctly, you may want to work with a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor.
Try prescription medications
A number of prescription medications may help your bladder retain urine until you’re ready to consciously let it pass. Some choices include:
- Anticholinergics to block abnormal bladder contractions
- Mirabegron to relax the bladder
- Botox to paralyze the bladder muscles
If you have other symptoms of perimenopause and menopause — such as hot flashes or painful sex — we may recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to strengthen your genitourinary tissues and alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms.
Surgery to repair the pelvic floor
If you don’t respond to less invasive methods, we may advise surgical repair. You may benefit from a sling or bladder-neck suspension procedure.
The embarrassment of urinary incontinence doesn’t have to be part of your aging process. Contact our team today for a urinary incontinence evaluation and treatment at the Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office nearest you.