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Does Estrogen Replacement Therapy Help with Incontinence?

Posted by on March 17, 2016 under BladderMatters | Be the First to Comment

Estrogen Replacement

Original post written by Dr. Anna Garrett for LiveConfidently.com

As women age, they experience a gradual loss of estrogen. The rate of loss increases as menopause approaches. Low estrogen levels are associated with a number of symptoms, one of which is urinary incontinence. This happens because estrogen helps maintain connective tissue and muscle tone in areas that have many estrogen receptors, such as the vagina, urethra, and bladder.

Given that estrogen plays such a significant role in the function of these tissues, it makes sense that replacing the estrogen might be a good idea. For years, millions of women took synthetic estrogen to manage the symptoms of menopause, but in 2002 the Women’s Health Initiative study data showed that estrogen replacement might be causing more harm than good. In that study, oral estrogen replacement, in combination with medroxyprogesterone (a derivative of progestin), was associated with increased risk of cancer, stroke, and blood clots.

The majority of studies of oral estrogen for treatment of incontinence have shown that it actually makes symptoms worse in women who already have incontinence and can trigger incontinence in women who don’t already have it. Therefore, oral estrogen is not recommended as an option for treatment of incontinence.

However, there is some data that suggests that using topical estrogen may be of benefit. Direct application of the cream to the walls of the vagina and urethral tissue has been shown to increase tissue integrity and strength, often reducing the symptoms of incontinence and vaginal dryness that are common in menopause. Since the estrogen is not absorbed into the body in significant amounts, the risk of side effects is low.

Topical estrogen may be most effective when used in combination with other therapies, such as pelvic floor muscle training, also known as Kegel exercises. You’ll need a prescription for estrogen cream, so discuss the options with your doctor and be aware that side effects may occur, including breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding, headache, nausea, and bloating. Typically, you need four to 12 weeks of treatment before you notice improvements, and symptoms usually return about four to six weeks after therapy ends. Treatment plans will vary according to patient needs; follow your physician’s orders and continue with 3-6 month checkups with your prescribing doctor.

Do you have any experience with estrogen replacement therapy, or have you experienced incontinence issues during menopause? To connect with other women just like you, visit our incontinence forum. We’d love to hear your experiences, questions, and suggestions.

Additionally, you can find varying levels of products for incontinence at TotalHomeCareSupplies.com.

Foods and Drinks that can Trigger Incontinence

Posted by on January 7, 2016 under BladderMatters | Be the First to Comment

Original post written by Dr. Anna Garrett for LiveConfidently.com

Some foods and drinks can aggravate urge incontinence (overactive bladder). There’s no formal “urinary incontinence diet,” so finding out what worsens your symptoms is a process of trial and error. Since we’re all unique individuals, what sends one person running for the bathroom may be just fine for another.

Let’s take a look at six common diet culprits that can irritate the bladder and worsen the symptoms of incontinence.

1. Too Much Water

When you’re bothered by urinary incontinence, there’s a fine line between preventing dehydration and worsening your incontinence. Most sources recommend drinking eight 8 oz. cups of water daily. However, four to six 8 oz. cups may be an amount that prevents dehydration and unexpected trips to the bathroom. Managing fluids helps the symptoms of both stress and urge incontinence.

2. Alcoholic Beverages

If you have urge incontinence or mixed urinary incontinence (a combination of urge and stress), alcoholic beverages can be bad news. Alcohol has a direct effect on the bladder, reduces nerve control, and acts as a diuretic that can cause dehydration. It interferes with the messages your brain sends to your bladder (telling it when to go, when to hold urine, etc.) so you’re more likely to have an incontinence episode.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the bladder and also acts as a diuretic. It’s best to eliminate coffee and other caffeine sources (tea, chocolate, soda) completely from your diet when you have urinary incontinence. Giving up your daily “cup of joe” can be difficult because caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches and fatigue. A slow taper may make this process more manageable. If you can’t give it up completely, cut back to one cup of coffee a day and don’t drink it after 7 pm.

4. Spicy Foods

If you have urge incontinence (overactive bladder), you may want to avoid foods that contain hot peppers, chili powder, horseradish, or other pungent spices. Spicy foods can irritate the lining of the bladder and worsen the symptoms of incontinence. Again, pinpointing the spicy culprits is all about trial and error. Eliminate the prime suspects, then add them back one at a time until you identify the source.

5. Acidic Foods

If you have urinary incontinence, it’s wise to avoid acidic foods and drinks, including tomatoes, orange juice, cranberry juice, and other items. Citrus-based foods and drinks are highly acidic and tend to irritate the bladder. Cranberry juice is often used to help bladder infections, but it does not help with overactive bladder and urge incontinence.

6. Carbonated Drinks

The carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks (with or without caffeine) can irritate a sensitive bladder, which can set off urge incontinence. Try to stick to natural beverages, like water or non-acidic fruit and vegetable juices.

Where to Begin

An elimination diet may feel like you’re giving up everything you love, but the likelihood is that you aren’t sensitive to everything on the list of top offenders. Begin by eliminating everything in your diet that you suspect may be causing problems. Once you’ve determined if this approach helps your symptoms, you can begin to add things back one at a time to see if you can tolerate small amounts. If your incontinence symptoms worsen, you will know that the item you added back to your diet is something you need to eliminate permanently. You may want to download and print our Diet Journal Page (PDF) to help keep track of what you’ve eaten and the side effects. Using trial and error, you’ll create a personal diet plan that works for you and your incontinence symptoms.

What are some foods and drinks that irritate your incontinence symptoms? What steps have you taken to modify your diet to avoid these items? Head over to our incontinence forum to share your experiences!