Aging brings with it certain challenges, and your urinary health certainly qualifies. Consider this — about half of adult women in the United States report some experience with involuntary urinary leakage. As if that weren’t challenging enough, women are also more prone to urinary tract infections when they get older.
To explain the changes in urination that women can potentially face as they age, our team at Women’s Health Services is focusing on urinary incontinence in women and other similar challenges in this month’s blog post.
Why older women are more prone to incontinence issues
There are several types of urinary incontinence, including:
- Stress incontinence — too much pressure on the bladder
- Urge incontinence — a sudden need to urinate, even when the bladder isn’t full
- Mixed incontinence — a combination of the two above
- Functional incontinence — a health issue that prevents you from getting to the bathroom in time
Unfortunately, women outpace men in many of these subtypes of urinary incontinence, and there are two primary drivers behind this gender disparity.
First, when women pass through menopause, they lose key reproductive hormones. That loss can lead to a weakened support system for pelvic organs, including your bladder. More specifically, your pelvic floor can weaken after menopause and lead to uterine prolapse.
As well, if you’ve been through childbirth, especially multiple births, support systems in your pelvis and damaged nerves associated with bladder control can be weakened. That can lead to both stress incontinence, as well as overactive bladder.
As a result of the loss of hormones that comes with menopause and previous childbirth, women are at a greater risk of developing urinary incontinence.
Urinary infections and older women
Women of all ages are no strangers to urinary tract infections (UTIs), and more than half of women will develop the infection at least once in their lives.
The reason why women are more prone to UTIs is anatomical — their urethras are shorter than those of men, allowing more bacteria to make the quick journey to the bladder.
After women pass through menopause, their risks for UTIs grow as the drop in estrogen causes thinning in the vaginal tissues, making it easier for harmful bacteria to multiply.
As a result, the risk of getting a UTI for women over the age of 65 is 10%, and that number increases to 30% for women over the age of 85.
Bladder health as you age
We want to make one final point about aging and urination, and that is the changes that your bladder undergoes as you age.
This organ tends to thicken with age, becoming less elastic. That means it can’t hold as much urine as it did when you were younger. As well, bladder muscles can weaken with time, which can also affect urination.
The bottom line is that, like every other area of your health, your urinary health can experience changes as you grow older. The good news is that we can keep up with these changes to maintain your quality of life. From hormone replacement therapies to treatments for uterine prolapse, we understand what you’re up against, and we can help.
If you have more questions about urinary issues as you get older, we invite you to call our office in Arlington, Texas, at 817-277-9415 today, or book an appointment online with the team at Women’s Health Services.