Posted by on April 15, 2014 - 6:52pm

Loss of bladder control, or urinary incontinence, is a problem that millions of women face. The involuntary loss of urine can range in presentation; it can be minimal, from a few drops when you laugh, exercise, or cough. Or, it can be an accident when you suddenly urge to urinate and can't keep it in. Most episodes of urinary incontinence are the result of altered pressures or stress on the muscles and nerves that help you pass or hold urine in. Hormone changes can also affect muscle strength. Like your vaginal tissue, the muscle tissue in and surrounding the bladder and urethra (the short tube that passes urine from the bladder out the body) requires estrogen to remain supple and strong. When estrogen levels drop in menopause, the tissue around the bladder and urethra thin and weaken,which can lead to incontinence.

The most common types of urinary incontinence include stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when the pressures from activities such as laughing, coughing, and sneezing cause leakage. Urge incontinence occurs when you have the urge to urinate and your bladder squeezes at the wrong time. Often, these two types can create a mixed picture. Other bladder problems that can happen are nocturia, when you must wake up multiple times throughout the night to urinate, and dysuria, painful urination.

If you think you have incontinence, visit a professional to learn more about the variety of options you have for treatment. A professional can be your primary care physician, gynecologist, urologist, and even a urogynecologist. Your physician may recommend lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol or caffeine intake, recording a voiding diary, or strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises. Beyond this, therapies also include devices inserted into the vagina to hold up the bladder (pessaries), a variety of medications, and surgery if necessary. Your physician will also be the one to exclude other potential causes of bladder problems including infection and neurological damage.

To learn more about urinary issues or other symptomatology that arise during menopause, visit Northwestern's menopause website here.

Posted by on June 13, 2011 - 6:08am

There is a lot of information on the web promoting various diets for interstitial cystitis (IC), a painful bladder condition with many different symptoms.  Both the IC clinical guidelines of the American Urological Association (AUA) and the chronic pelvic pain practice bulletin of the American College of Obstetrical Gynecology (ACOG) recommend dietary modification as a useful approach for helping to manage IC and chronic pelvic pain.

However, research into the link between IC and food is very limited. At this time, there is no special “IC Diet.”

IC affects 3-8 million women in the U.S.   Men also have it but to a smaller degree, an estimated 1-4 million.   However, in men, it is often mistaken for chronic prostatitis.  Research has found that there is a lot of variability among IC patients. Some people with IC report that certain foods appear to irritate their bladders and cause painful IC flares. And they find that making a few strategic changes to what they eat and drink can help to control IC symptoms including pain, frequency, and urgency. Other IC patients find that diet does affect their flares.

Some 2,100 IC patients responded to a survey conducted by the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) on complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). Diet topped the list of helpful CAM treatments. The ICA distinguished between looking for and eliminating your individual food triggers and strictly eliminating all the foods on a given “IC Diet” food list. Results were the same in both cases, strongly suggesting that you can eat happy and healthy with a wide variety of items in your diet and still keep your symptoms at bay. The survey also found that newly diagnosed patients find diet changes significantly more helpful than long-standing IC patients.

The ICA recommends eating a healthy, balanced diet. Meet with a registered dietitian (RD) to learn more about how to identify which foods and beverages might bother your IC. Also, find out if your health insurance covers the cost of nutrition counseling.
What We Know about IC & Diet
What to Eat—and What Not to Eat
Differing Approaches on IC & Diet

Source: Interstitial Cystitis Association