Skip to main content

Incontinence and bladder problems

Women at the gym doing aerobicsThis page provides information for women, their partners and families about incontinence and other common bladder conditions experienced during and after the menopause.

Bladder problems after the menopause

The fall in the level of the hormone estrogen that occurs around the time of the menopause can cause a range of bladder problems. Common symptoms are:

  • Frequency - an increased need to urinate
  • Urgency - a sudden urgent desire to urinate
  • Nocturia - the need to wake and pass urine during the night

More information about the impact of the menopause on the bladder is available from:

Preventing bladder problems and urinary incontinence

It’s not always possible to prevent incontinence, but the following may help reduce the chance of it developing:

  • Controlling your weight
  • Avoiding or cutting down on alcohol
  • Keeping fit - in particular, making sure your pelvic floor muscles are strong

More information about preventing urinary incontinence is available from:

Treating and managing bladder problems and urinary incontinence

Your healthcare practitioner may recommend that you undergo a medical procedure to treat and manage your incontinence or bladder condition. There are a number of different procedures, and the links below provide information about the various options.

Some operations involve the use of mesh or tape - see below for more information

Mesh and tape

In a number of operations for stress urinary incontinence, mesh or tape (supporting material) is used to provide additional support to tissues. It is currently recommended that operations using mesh are only performed by specialists with expertise in this technique and only after a full discussion about the benefits and risks of such surgery with the woman.

The NHS has developed a leaflet that provides information about the use of mesh in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence:

For more information about mesh, please visit our mesh page to access a range of resources to support your informed decision-making.

Making a choice about your treatment

There will be choices to make about the type of treatment you wish to receive. You will probably have a lot of questions and may wish to discuss your options with family and friends. To begin with, try to get answers to three key questions:

  • What are my options?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option for me?
  • How do I get support to help me make a decision that is right for me?

For more information about working with your healthcare professional to make the right choice for you, please visit the NHS Shared Decision Making website.

About the links on this page

Some of the information this page links to  is not produced by the RCOG. Our policy on publishing links to third-party sites outlines how we decide which sites to link to, and our terms and conditions include a disclaimer about the RCOG’s responsibility for information on linked sites.

Please give us your feedback

We would like to understand how people are using this resource to help ensure it is relevant and useful. To give us your feedback, please complete our short survey.

If you have any questions, please email womensvoices@rcog.org.uk.

Elsewhere on the site

Medical terms explained
A–Z of common medical words in women’s health
About the RCOG
Find out about our work to improve women’s health worldwide