Intimacy and incontinence: finding a new comfort zone

Intimacy and incontinence: finding a new comfort zone

It’s estimated that more than 40% of menopausal women suffer from incontinence. Here’s how to prevent it interfering with your intimate relationship.

It’s estimated that more than 40% of menopausal women suffer from incontinence. Here’s how to prevent it interfering with your intimate relationship.

One of the most common symptoms of menopause is stress incontinence, or loss of bladder control. Although many women experience this issue, dealing with the mental and physical aspects of incontinence can have an impact on many areas of your life – especially when it comes to being intimate with your partner.

To help you reconnect with your other half with confidence, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about incontinence, from why it happens to how you can treat and manage it. With our insights, you’ll be able to stop worrying and start focusing on being as close to your loved one as possible.

What causes incontinence

It's worth knowing that although incontinence can be stressful or uncomfortable, it’s completely normal – and is nothing to be concerned about. Stress incontinence occurs because, during the menopause, levels of the hormone oestrogen drop, which results in a weakening of the muscles that control the bladder.

This means that urine inadvertently leaks when the bladder is put under pressure (while laughing or running, for example), or it becomes too full. Weight gain or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also make urinary incontinence worse because of extra pressure on the bladder or hormonal fluctuations.

How to treat it

Kegels, or pelvic-floor exercises, are an excellent way to control urinary incontinence, and strengthening these muscles has the added bonus of adding a little intensity and va-va-voom to your romantic life!

You can do them anytime, anywhere: simply squeeze the muscles of your pelvic floor as if you were stopping a wee mid-flow – you should feel the entire ‘sling’ of muscles from your vagina to your rectum tighten up in response. Start with sets of 10, holding each rep for three seconds before releasing, and do them three times a day. Build up the number of repetitions and the length of time you hold them as you get stronger.

Bladder training

This involves learning to increase the length of time between feeling the need to urinate and actually doing so, thus strengthening the bladder and increasing your confidence in being able to hold your wee in successfully. You need to learn how to do this from a qualified health professional, and courses usually last around six weeks.

Protection wear

You’ll be amazed at the level of comfort, protection and confidence these products can give you. You might opt for protective underwear on days when you know you’re more likely to leak – for example, if you’re out and about without easy access to a toilet, or will be physically exerting yourself.

When you want the confidence of light protection that’s easily disposed of before more intimate moments later on, liners such as Always Discreet Pads+ are a perfect solution.

Lifestyle habits

Reduce the risk of leaks during intimate moments by cutting down on how much you drink in the hours beforehand, and having a wee before you get cosy.

And try not to let your fear of incontinence get in the way of having a great time – remember, bladder sensitivity is very common (in younger women as well as those who are menopausal or post-menopause). The best way to deal with it is by relaxing and letting yourself be in the moment – and maybe a little humour!

For more information on managing incontinence visit the Always Discreet page.

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