It is fantastic that menopause is being much more openly discussed amongst women, with our friends, at work, online and our partners. The Davina documentaries and experts like Dr Louise Newson have really helped open up the conversation. We are not there yet - however, our generation are paving the way for a much-needed overhaul of menopause understanding. But there are still some things that we find more awkward to talk about, the embarrassing menopausal symptoms that we don't often own up to including sexual health, libido, vaginal dryness, stress incontinence and bladder leakage and especially their effect on our relationships.
On my blog I don't want to shy away from those conversations and I am slowly being more honest about my struggles and sharing my own menopause story in the hope that I can help other women looking for guidance. Knowing you are not alone is reassuring and gives us confidence to find solutions. You may still feel unable to talk about some more personal symptoms openly but I hope finding a friendly blog post can help - and don't forget you can always email me in complete confidence.
World Continence Week runs from 20th to 26th June 2022 and is run by the World Federation of Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP). Bladder leakage in menopause is a very real problem and one that we should be more willing to seek help for.
This blog post is sponsored by Modibodi, a company set up in 2013 by Kristy Chong, with the aim of starting her own brand to change underwear (and our mindsets) for the better. After the birth of her second child, her experiences with bladder leaks made her determined to design better products to offer protection against leaks and encourage us to talk about the 'unmentionable' bladder leaks. Kristy Chong, designed, developed, and scientifically proved her patented Modifier Technology™ which resulted in Modibodi’s first leak-proof undies. Modibodi now includes an extensive range for periods, bodily fluids and urinary incontinence, including underwear, leggings, shorts and swimwear.
What is urinary incontinence?
The main types of urinary incontinence are:
Stress incontinence - which causes you to leak urine when you exert yourself (i.e. coughing, sneezing or laughing), it is more common in women.
Urge incontinence - this is connected with a sudden urge to urinate, the amount leaked can vary it has different causes and needs full investigation.
Mixed urinary incontinence - a combination of stress and urge incontinence that cause an involuntary loss of urine.
There is also overflow incontinence, neurological bladder disorder, post-micturition dribble and finally functional urinary incontinence which is the type of urinary incontinence linked to older age and lowered cognitive ability (in dementia for example).
Sensual High Waist Bikini - Pee & Period Proof - Pacific Blue (Heavy - Overnight)
Sensual Hi-Waist Brief - Incontinence Protection - Black (Ultra)
Incontinence and urine leakage in menopause
In peri and postmenopausal women, urine leakage is a common problem, and it is usually caused by stress incontinence. We are all happy to discuss (joke and commiserate) about the common symptoms of menopause like hot flushes, mood swings and night sweats but we are not so willing to own up to urinary tract infections and loss of bladder control.
With the onset of menopause we gradually lose the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen is involved in many bodily functions and has an important part to play in keeping your bladder and urinary tract healthy. Decreased levels of oestrogen may result in symptoms like vaginal dryness, urinary frequency, urgency and urine leakage. Together these symptoms are called 'Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause' or GSM.
Now of course, you know I am a huge fan of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)! Taking Oestrogel has meant that I am mostly symptom free, unless something goes wrong with my dosage as it has recently causing my hormone levels to drop. But on the whole, I really advocate considering hormone replacement therapy to replace your lost oestrogen as soon as you notice menopausal symptoms.
We should also make lifestyle changes like exercising more, taking the right supplements, improving our diet, doing our pelvic floor exercises and maintaining a healthy weight. These lifestyle choices can really support the hormonal changes we are facing.
Other causes of a weak bladder in women
Menstruation - some women will suffer from stress incontinence during the week before they start their period, this is because oestrogen drops in this phase of the menstrual cycle which can weaken the uretha.
Pregnancy and childbirth - stress incontinence is very common after the birth of a baby, a natural birth can cause weak pelvic floor muscles and leakage of urine and it was this that prompted Kirsty to set up Modibodi.
Menstrual hygiene and period pants
Period pants are a fabulous invention, girls start their periods so much earlier these days and are often not ready for tampons but are embarrassed about taking part in sports or swimming activities. Period swimwear is a real win! In my day I had to sit it out and it was so obvious why a few of us were not joining in the school swimming lesson! Thank goodness for advances in technology and the ability to talk more openly about our menstrual cycles with far less embarrassment. Who remembers the sanitary belt before adhesive strips!? And the embarrassment of sanitary towels in school bags?
How to ease symptoms of urinary incontinence
The best way to ease symptoms of urinary incontinence yourself include:
Manage bladder leakage discreetly
Modibodi has launched a new style of brief to help manage incontinence discreetly. The ULTRA range feels like everyday underwear but has a built-in absorbent lining which completely replaces the need for disposable incontinence pads. It also comes with a removable booster pad if a little more protection is needed. The Sensual Hi-Waist Brief ULTRA is currently available in Black for Women in sizes from 6 to 26. And for men they have the ULTRA Trunk in Black from size M to 4XL.
Modibodi has an extensive range in varying absorbencies to help with periods, pee, perspiration and pregnancy! I am particularly impressed with its Adaptive range. The Detachable Bikini Brief lets you change quickly and easily, even while seated or in bed, which is ideal for those with limited mobility. The brief has a hook and eye fastening on the side and can be used for periods or pee.
I recently needed to purchase some incontinence products for someone, it was encouraging to be able to choose pretty underwear rather than rely on bulky pads, to see the advances in what is available is reassuring and very welcome.
Treatment options for urinary incontinence
If incontinence and bladder control problems are having a significant impact on your quality of life, please do speak to your GP or menopause specialist for a proper diagnosis and advice. The treatment options for urinary incontinence symptoms include:
And a final note about relationships, another common issue I mentioned is vaginal dryness or vaginal atrophy which is caused by a lack of oestrogen and is one of the more common menopause symptoms. It can affect our sex life (pain and discomfort) as well as social activities and the discomfort can also mean we avoid physical activity.
Replacing lost oestrogen with HRT (gel, tablet or patch) can significantly improve this debilitating condition. But if you are unable to take HRT or HRT is not enough to give you meaningful improvement of your symptoms then you can also use a topical oestrogen cream directly on the vaginal area (outside or inside). There are several different types of estriol products for vaginal use and your GP or menopause specialist can advise.
Sensual Hi-Waist Bikini - Maxi 24 Hours Absorbency - Flora Red
(T-Shirt Bra from Fantasie Lingerie)
I hope this blog post is useful and can help point y0u in the right direction to get help for the more embarrassing symptoms of menopause and later life ... please don't suffer in silence, there really are excellent solutions available to us.
Modibodi are offering readers of Fifty & Fab a 15% discount on all orders over £55, please use the code FABULTRA15, valid until 31st July 2022 (excludes bundles, gift cards, sale items and maxi).
Disclaimer: this blog post is part of a paid collaboration with Modibodi, however all words, views and opinions are my own.
Welcome to Fifty & Fab, a lifestyle blog to inspire you. I am a blogger with a passion for writing about style, beauty, health and fitness with a focus on the over 50's. I am based in Marlow but work across London and the South East.
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Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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