Common symptoms of menopause that aren’t spoken about as much are changes in your pelvic floor. The reduction of – oestrogen is what causes your menstrual cycles to become less regular, and puts you into the transition phase of perimenopause.
This hormone fluctuation also causes common and unpleasant pelvic health symptoms.
The vulva, vagina, urethra and bladder all contain high levels of oestrogen receptors. As oestrogen reduces with menopause, the tissues of these structures become thinner and less flexible, with altered blood flow and reduced lubrication. As a result of this, common symptoms include:
- Dry and sensitive vaginal tissues
- Changes in pelvic floor muscle strength and flexibility
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Reduced sexual desire and arousal
- Urinary incontinence
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
It is very common that women push these symptoms to the side because they don’t think much can be done to help or that these symptoms are just a part of aging. It is important to take a proactive and preventative approach to your pelvic health, ensuring your pelvic floor muscles stay strong and function as they should. Throughout a woman’s life there are multiple events that may take away from your optimal pelvic floor function including childbirth, constipation, chronic coughing or going through menopause.
If you could be slowly adding to your pelvic floor functional reserve before these events occur, your overall pelvic health function won’t be as affected. It is never too late to make a change and improve your pelvic health.
There are multiple treatment options that may reduce symptoms, including:
- Individualised pelvic floor program
- Regular exercise that is pelvic floor friendly and promotes bone health
- Topical creams
- Vaginal support pessaries
- Strategies to deal with constipation
- Other lifestyle modifications to help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.