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Why do bladder problems become an issue as women age?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

As a woman ages, her body goes through certain changes that can make bladder problems more likely to occur. One is losing the ability to make estrogen, which occurs during menopause. Estrogen is a potent hormone that plays many roles in the body. One effect of low estrogen levels seems to be that bladder muscles weaken. That can lead to poor bladder control and result in urine leaks that may occur now and then.

However, aging can also bring with it various health problems that may feature bladder trouble as a side effect. For instance, nerves that control the bladder muscles can be damaged by diabetes. Strokes, heart disease, some infections, and a number of other health conditions can make bladder problems an issue too.

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
As women age and go through menopause, they're more likely to develop embarrassing bladder problems, such as stress incontinence and overactive bladder. Most bladder problems respond well to treatment, such as Kegel exercises to strengthen the bladder muscles and medication for overactive bladder.

Let’s face it, bladder control can become an issue for women even after Junior pops out. This inconvenient and embarrassing problem is called urinary incontinence, a fancy name for the accidental release of urine. Urination, believe it or not, is a very complex process that relies on three processes working together well:

1. The overall health of the urinary system

2. Well-coordinated messages between the nerves and brain

3. The position and strength of pelvic floor muscles and ligaments. Weaken that supportive sling holding up the bladder and suddenly you are crossing your legs with every cough or sneeze.

Although bladder control problems are not an inevitable consequence of aging, the risk for bladder control problems increases as you age. Childbirth and weight gain are the biggest offenders. Both of these stretch the pelvic floor muscles, making it harder to support the bladder and keep the urine in. Urinary tract infections or neurological diseases that cause nerve damage also can lead to bladder control problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.