– by John C. Carrozzella, M.D., FAARFM
Florida Center for Hormones and Wellness
7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Suite 370, Orlando
There you are, out with your husband at the latest Broadway show at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. You’re having a wonderful date night. Then it happens, you sneeze and feel warm fluid flow down between your legs. Stunned and surprised, you look down and there it is — a big embarrassing wet spot. Date night over. Future engagements in doubt. You’ve just discovered that you are the latest victim of a common but little-discussed medical problem: menopausal bladder leakage or urinary incontinence (UI).
I know, I’ve heard it before. “I thought that was just a one off occurrence.” But the reality is, over time, the frequency and unpredictability of leakage has increased. You are afraid to leave the house. You went to your doctor and then to your gynecologist, yet the best they have to offer is women’s absorbable panties or some funny little device that you have to put inside you — every day, multiple times per day. Still, that does not do the trick. Besides, who feels sexy wearing Depends?
Urinary incontinence in women is a far more prevalent problem than is commonly known. A search of the medical literature reveals that UI occurs in anywhere from 7 to 25 percent of all women. Worse, in 2007, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that more than 33 percent of all postmenopausal women suffer with UI and the frequency and severity increases with age and time past the onset of menopause. The causes of UI range from reversible things like urinary tract infections and dietary intake of items like caffeine and alcohol. There are more severe causes such as childbirth (traumatic or multiple) or hysterectomy. Then there is one of the most common causes: hormonal imbalance due to menopause.
Despite volumes of medical literature on the subject, few traditional doctors understand the relationship between women’s hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) and UI. Those hormones have a healthy effect on a woman’s urinary tract and are essential in maintaining the musculature and the physiology essential for normal bladder control. Even fewer doctors know that normalizing a women’s hormone balance may reduce menopausal-related UI substantially. So, while neglecting the obvious, conventional medicine treats menopausal UI with pads, absorbent panties, uncomfortable inserts, pelvic muscle exercises, medications (often with undesirable side effects), and sometimes even with dangerous and unpredictable surgical procedures that can have serious and sometimes disabling side effects. Imagine losing your sexual function and satisfaction at age 51.
The good news is that today there are alternatives. Some postdoctoral medical schools like the University of South Florida and Georgetown University are educating providers in more natural and healthy ways to reverse UI. Simply balancing hormones may reverse UI in 50 percent or more of postmenopausal women. There is a wonderful new procedure called the O-shot that uses healing factors from a women’s own blood to heal worn and tired nerves and muscles in the urinary tract and thus improve UI. There is also a remarkable new device called InTone, which has been shown to dramatically reverse UI. All in all, when used alone or in combination, these three techniques may relieve more than 80 percent of all menopausal UI.
So, as I have said many times before, when it comes to hormone balance in women: “It’s not all just about sex!” In this case it’s about keeping your clothes dry and enjoying life in your mature years with a greater sense of bladder security.?