Can Menopause Cause Bladder Problems?

Yes! It’s hard to know exactly how many women are affected by bladder problems in menopause, but in my experience it’s quite common. Despite that, it’s still a topic we shy away from talking about, so if it’s affecting you, read on to discover some natural treatment options which might help.

The types of bladder problems we see in peri-menopause vary quite considerably. They include:

  • ‘Irritable bladder’ where we need the loo more often or more urgently but there’s no sign of infection.
  • Interstitial cystitis where we get irritable bladder symptoms along with intense pelvic pain.
  • Stress incontinence where we lose bladder control when we laugh, cough, sneeze or lift a heavy weight.
  • Recurrent bladder or kidney infections.

Causes of Overactive Bladder in Peri-menopause

The drop in oestrogen that happens later in peri-menopause can affect the cells in the bladder in much the same way as in the vagina. They become much more delicate and prone to irritation. ‘Genito-urinary syndrome of Menopause’ (GSM) is the term used to describe both bladder and vaginal symptoms associated with this drop in oestrogen. The two tend to be interconnected, eg, you’re at higher risk of recurrent urinary infections in peri-menopause if you’re heading towards uterine prolapse. That’s why it’s vital to maintain your core strength and look after all of your pelvic health.

I have heard some Doctors talking about the long term effects of untreated GSM. Elders can be very prone to bladder infections and they can lead onto other complications. Usually their solution is simply to use HRT, but if it doesn’t feel right, there are still plenty of HRT alternatives that you may fund helpful.

If you’re still cycling, you might find your symptoms fluctuate during the course of the month. It’s worth using a symptom tracker to help you unpick which hormone changes are linked to your bladder problems, and which treatments would be most helpful.

Although hormone changes are known to cause overactive bladder in peri-menopause, the effects elsewhere in the body can aggravate symptoms too. Gut dysbiosis, general inflammation, poor blood sugar balance and food intolerances can all play a part too. During a first consultation with a patient, we also look into ways of working on these areas, so that they’re less likely to make the problem worse.

Hormonal contraceptives and HRT can also make irritable bladder worse during peri-menopause. If this happens, start by talking to your prescribing Doctor about possible alternatives.

Natural Remedies For Overactive Bladder in Peri-menopause

If hormone wobbles are a main part of the problem, fixing them is a main part of the solution, and that usually means herbs. Low testosterone is often behind peri-menopausal bladder issues, and there are herbs we can use to gently raise testosterone levels. We can also use herbs containing phyto-oestrogens and phyto-progestegens to normalise those other hormones too.

As well as using herbs for hormone balance, it’s good to make sure you’re drinking enough water. Around 1l per 5 stone of body weight per day is a good rough guide, and herbal teas count too.

Incontinence in Peri-Menopause

This is probably one of the most upsetting peri-menopause symptoms. It’s embarrassing and it does nothing for our self confidence, but there is a lot we can do.

In my practice I use a ‘two pronged’ approach, because for best results we need to work on both hormone imbalance and muscle tone at the same time. The herbal remedies tweak the hormone levels, so that they can still ebb and flow but with less impact on the rest of the body. At the same time, I encourage my patients to work with someone like Jeanette Brown who specialises in core strength for pelvic health.

Previously women were encouraged to use keigel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, reducing the risk of prolapse and incontinence. Those exercises are now being replaced by vasopressives, which strengthen the core and the whole abdominal canister. Simply breathing correctly through your nose and into your abdomen exercises the diaphragm at the top of your abdomen. When the diaphragm moves downwards with each breath, your pelvic floor has no choice but to move down at the same time, making room for your internal organs to move. So deep breathing is just one of many ways to improve the tone of your pelvic floor, but I’d highly recommend vasopressives too.

Recurrent Urine Infections in Peri-menopause

There are a few reasons why this can happen, including:

  • Poor blood sugar regulation or the onset of diabetes making it easier for bacteria to grow.
  • Hormone changes lowering overall immunity.
  • Gut dysbiosis affecting the bladder.
  • The lining of the bladder becoming less robust against bacteria.

If you’re getting recurrent infections, or symptoms of infection, I would recommend getting yourself checked out by your GP to establish the cause.

If nothing is found, there are a number of herbs and supplements you can use to help yourself.

Self Care For Bladder Problems in Peri-menopause

There’s a lot you can do to minimise the chances of getting bladder problems as you move through peri-menopause. As always, our physical symptoms symbolise patterns of dis-ease in the subconscious mind. Bladder problems can relate to feeling ‘pissed off’ over a particular situation, so that’s the first thing to consider.

Urination is also used by animals to define territory and their status within the pecking order. Often young children will develop toileting problems when a baby brother or sister arrives, because they feel unsure as to where they fit within the family dynamic. In adults, any insecurity around where we fit into a group hierarchy, at home, work or society at large, can manifest as bladder problems. It’s interesting that often in menopause we tend to reflect on our aging and mortality, and what our later years might look like. Since in our society aging is not generally seen in a very positive light, it’s no wonder so many peri-menopausal women develop urinary problems!

However, at the same time, I believe others often reflect back our own beliefs about ourselves. We can’t expect wider society to respect elders if we don’t respect ourselves as we age. The change needs to start with each of us individually, and it’s really interesting to see how aging is regarded in other cultures compared to ours. If you’ve got Netflix I can highly recommend watching ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones’

On the more physical level, you could also:

  • Make sure you urinate after sex
  • Get any uterine prolapse, vaginal dryness or irritation treated as early as possible
  • Cut out or at least drastically reduce any sugar in your diet
  • Make sure you thoroughly wash your water bottle every time you use it

Natural Remedies For Bladder Problems in Peri-menopause

Here are my top natural remedies for bladder problems:

  • Cranberry powder – the juice contains sugar which feeds bacteria, so mix the powder into water instead.
  • Cornsilk tea – use fresh or dried cornsilk (the string from inside the leaves of corn-0n-the-cob).
  • D mannose – a type of sugar which stops E.Coli bacteria from reproducing.
  • Probiotics aimed at bladder health.

Need More Help With Your Bladder Problems?

Persistent or recurrent infections always need to be investigated by a Doctor, and sometimes antibiotics are the best treatment. If you also need natural treatments for your bladder issues, book a free call with me.












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