Menopause & Pelvic Health
Menopause is a time of huge changes for a lot of women and with that can come a lot of distressing pelvic floor symptoms. These can include:
- Bladder leakage
- Bladder frequency
- Bladder Urgency
- Painful intercourse
- Heaviness, pressure, bulging at the vagina (Pelvic organ prolapse)
- Bowel leakage
- Vulva or vaginal dryness, itching or irritation
Menopause sees a decline in our oestrogen levels and this can lead to some significant tissue changes which can contribute to some of the symptoms above.
Declining oestrogen can cause thinning and a reduction of moisture in the vaginal and vulva tissues. This can lead to sensations of dryness, itching and irritation. It may be worth speaking to your doctor about local vaginal oestrogen treatments to help with these tissue changes. Local vaginal oestrogen only affects the tissues at the vagina and vulva and is not absorbed systemically so can be a safe option for most women. Always talk to your doctor first to see if this would be appropriate for you. If vaginal oestrogen is not an option for you, a vaginal moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid might be a good alternative to help moisturise the tissues and reduce some of these symptoms.
Declining oestrogen can also cause changes in and around the bladder and urethra. Bladder elasticity can reduce and the bladder lining can thin and become more irritable which can lead to increased bladder frequency and urgency. Avoiding bladder irritants can help with this. Bladder irritants can include caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits/juices, carbonated beverages, dairy and spicy foods.
Closure mechanisms around the bladder and the urethra can also become less effective which can contribute to bladder leakage. Optimising tissue health as outlined above can be helpful, but also seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist to better understand and optimize how your pelvic floor is working and how to strengthen and improve function to gain better control of your bladder. A strong, efficient pelvic floor will also help to better support your pelvic organs and can be very effective in reducing and managing pelvic organ prolapse.
Keeping your bowels happy and avoiding constipation is important in our overall pelvic health. Constipation can lead to straining which can put stress on the pelvic organs and pelvic floor which can further contribute to bladder or bowel leakage and/or pelvic organ prolapse. A full rectum can also contribute to an irritable overactive bladder. Optimise your gut and bowel health by maintaining good hydration throughout the day, consuming a healthy wholefood plant rich diet low in processed foods and sugars, and get regular movement and exercise throughout your day.
Movement & Exercise:
Getting regular movement & exercises is extremely important for our overall physical, mental and emotional health but also our pelvic health and function. It is important to not only strengthen your pelvic floor but also the whole core unit (this includes your pelvic floor muscles, the transverse abdominis muscle and your diaphragm) as well as your hip muscles. These muscle groups work together to help in optimizing bladder, bowel and pelvic floor health and function.
Stress & Sleep:
Managing stress and optimizing sleep are also incredibly important in helping with managing hormone changes and fluctuations and also helping with managing inflammation through the body which all support a happier pelvis through menopause!
Here at Trillium Health Centre, we offer Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, including pelvic health focused treatments (see last months post for more information), Massage therapy and Counselling which can all be useful in helping you manage symptoms of menopause. If you would like to make an appointment with any one of our therapists, please look at booking an appointment through our website or call the clinic at 778-640-1119.