Menopause is an extraordinary life chapter, marked by a cascade of hormonal shifts that can influence various aspects of a woman’s well-being. While many are familiar with common menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings, fewer are privy to the potential implications for pelvic health. Menopause can give rise to several pelvic floor issues that significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll unravel these intricacies and explore strategies for enhancing and revitalizing your pelvic health during this transformative phase of life.
Understanding Menopause: A New Beginning
Menopause is the transition that occurs when oestrogen and progesterone levels decline, marking the cessation of a woman’s ovarian function. It is officially declared when a woman has not menstruated for 12 consecutive months. On average, it tends to manifest most frequently between ages 45 and 55, with a mean age of around 51.
Navigating Pelvic Floor Challenges in Menopause
- Urinary Incontinence: Menopause heightens the susceptibility to stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge incontinence. SUI leads to unwelcome urine leaks during activities such as laughing, sneezing, or physical exertion, while urge incontinence is characterized by an abrupt, urgent need to urinate.
- Vaginal Dryness: Plummeting oestrogen levels can culminate in vaginal dryness and the thinning of vaginal walls. This, in turn, triggers discomfort, pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), and an elevated risk of vaginal infections.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The menopausal phase can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues, potentially resulting in pelvic organ prolapse (POP). POP occurs when pelvic organs like the uterus, bladder, or rectum descend into the vaginal canal, prompting feelings of discomfort and pressure.
- Pelvic Pain: Some women may grapple with pelvic pain or discomfort during menopause, often attributable to pelvic floor muscle tension, fluctuations in muscle tone, or other contributing factors.
- Sexual Dysfunction: Vaginal dryness and discomfort can contribute to sexual dysfunction, encompassing pain during sexual activity, reduced libido, and challenges in achieving orgasm.
- Bowel Irregularities: Menopause can influence bowel function, manifesting as symptoms like constipation, faecal incontinence, or difficulties in bowel evacuation.
- Frequent Urination: Variations in oestrogen levels can lead to increased urinary frequency, potentially disrupting sleep, and daily routines.
- Weight Management: Hormonal adjustments during menopause, compounded by decreased physical activity, can lead to weight gain, exerting additional strain on the pelvic floor.
- Bone Health: Weakened pelvic floor muscles, integral components of your core, can have repercussions on posture and pelvic stability. This may increase the risk of falls and fractures, particularly among postmenopausal women.
- Emotional Impact: Coping with pelvic floor issues during menopause can have far-reaching emotional and psychological consequences, including anxiety, depression, and a palpable effect on overall quality of life.
Embarking on Your Pelvic Health Journey
Women’s Health Physiotherapists are your trusted allies in embracing menopause with confidence and vitality. Here’s how we can chart your course to a fulfilling pelvic health journey:
1. Personalized Assessment: The first step in your journey to conquering menopause is a comprehensive assessment by a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. We delve deep into understanding your unique pelvic floor needs.
2. Knowledge Is Empowerment Women’s Health Physiotherapists equip you with invaluable insights into how menopause influences your pelvic health. This will help you to confront these issues effectively.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises: Cultivating Strength Within Pelvic floor exercises are the bedrock of pelvic health during menopause. Women’s Health Physiotherapists will teach you how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly. Regular practice can improve muscle tone, control over bladder and bowel functions, and enhance your overall well-being.
4. Manual Therapy: Alleviating Tension Hands-On Manual can offer respite from tension and discomfort within the pelvic floor muscles, often a primary culprit for sexual pain.
5. Behavioural Strategies: Women’s Health Physiotherapists collaborate with you to craft behavioural strategies to improve bladder and bowel control
6. Prolapse Management: Pelvic organ prolapse is a prevalent concern during menopause, often accompanied by sensations of heaviness and pressure in the vaginal area. Women’s Health Physiotherapists are trained to deliver solutions such as pessary fitting to provide support for your pelvic organs.
7. Better Sexual Health: Women’s Health Physiotherapists can assist you in addressing issues like vaginal dryness (including recommendations for vaginal moisturizers and lubes) and facilitating discussions with your healthcare provider about topical oestrogen creams. We’ll teach you how to use dilators and pelvic wands to increase blood flow to vaginal tissue and alleviate discomfort during sexual activity.
8. Bone and Muscle Health: Sustaining Strength Preserving bone and muscle health is of paramount importance during menopause. Physiotherapists are well-equipped to guide you in integrating exercises that stave off osteoporosis and promote the preservation of healthy muscle mass. Research underscores the benefits for postmenopausal women who engage in a comprehensive exercise program, including sustaining a healthy body, optimal bone density levels, and robust mental health.
Remember, this is your time to shine! Consult a women’s health physiotherapist, and together, we’ll conquer menopause with confidence!
Women`s Health Physiotherapist
MNÁ Physiotherapy at BodyMed Clinic