Menopause is a natural process that marks the end of a female’s menstruation.
This usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 – which means most women can expect some 30 years of post-menopausal life. For some this is even longer as early menopause occurs in approx. 5% of women before age 40. In some instances it may be surgically or pharmacologically induced if you are undergoing treatment due to cancer or other gynaecological concerns.
Peri-menopause describes the state that precedes menopause and is often a great source of stress and anxiety as your hormones start to fluctuate. This is the time you realise that menopause may be on the horizon as you may start to notice:
- Changes in menstruation patterns including volume, duration and timing.
- Hot flashes
- Insomnia and depressed mood
- Physical aches and pains
- Reduction in bone density
- Changes to your strength and balance
- Weight gain
- Changes to the pelvic floor
Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) affects around 60% of post-menopausal women and describes a subset of symptoms pertaining to the pelvic floor and includes:
- Vaginal dryness, itching, burning or discomfort
- Pelvic floor muscle weakness
- Urinary and faecal incontinence
- Waking at night more often to urinate
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Painful intercourse
Research shows a positive impact on the signs and symptoms of GSM from physiotherapist led pelvic floor exercise programs. By improving the strength and effective relaxation of the pelvis floor muscles, it improves vulvovaginal blood flow/vascularity, tissue elasticity, and muscle function.
- Don’t put up with it!
- Practice good vulval hygiene: avoiding chemicals (e.g. soaps, vaginal washes, fragranced toilet paper)
- Wear loosely fitting cotton underwear and avoid tight pants
- If tolerated, more sex to improve blood flow to the tissues
- Book an appointment with a Women’s and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist!
What Can Embrace Physiotherapy Do for You?
- Work alongside your doctor to help identify the best course of treatment
- Make recommendations for appropriate vaginal moisturisers and lubrication
- Design a personalised pelvic floor muscle program with appropriate stretches
- Introduce graded touch and tissue desensitisation techniques
- Recommend a dilator program, using vaginal trainers
- Discuss approaches to a fulfilling intimate relationship
- Refer to a sexual counsellor or psychologist to address changes in body image, sexuality, fear, anxiety, and coping
- Support your emotional and physical health
- Help you embrace life!