Your body undergoes a lot of changes during menopause. Menopause, also known as the climacteric, is defined as not having your period for up to 12 months. You may be pre-menopausal if you are having more irregular periods due to alterations in progesterone and estrogen levels.
Causes Of Menopause
Menopause can start earlier due to a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus but not the ovaries causing you to no longer have periods. Your periods will stop immediately, likely causing hot flashes and other menopausal signs and symptoms. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also trigger menopause-like symptoms. Primary ovarian insufficiency, when the ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause?
Hormonal fluctuations and changes can cause weakening of the vaginal tissues and vaginal dryness that may lead to some but not limited to the following conditions:
- Urinary Incontinence: umbrella term to describe issues with regulating urination. These include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and functional incontinence
- Pelvic Pain: discomfort that occurs in the lowest part of the torso, the area below the abdomen and between the hip bones
- Urge Incontinence: having an abnormally increased urge to urinate that can cause increased urinary frequency. Sometimes leakage of urine will occur before you make it to the bathroom
- Vulvodynia: chronic vulvar pain without an identifiable cause
- Stress Incontinence: leaking of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: a general umbrella term that describes when a pelvic organ-such as your bladder drops (prolapses) from its normal place in your lower belly and pushes against the walls of your vagina
- Dyspareunia: painful and difficult intercourse
What Are The Risk Factors Of Menopause?
The natural decline of reproductive hormones is the key risk factor leading to menopause. Once you reach your late 30s, your ovaries make less estrogen and progesterone, as your fertility declines. Once you reach your 50s your ovaries stop producing eggs, and you will stop having periods.
Should I Come In For A Pelvic Floor Screening?
Due to the changes that menopause can cause it is always best to prevent an issue before it becomes one. Coming in for a pelvic floor screen to test your pelvic floor muscle strength and coordination and teach you an appropriate training program can help prevent a lot of issues down the road such as pelvic organ prolapse and urinary or fecal incontinence.
Can Physical Therapy Help Me?
During menopause, your body has an increased risk for various diseases such as osteoporosis and coronary artery disease. As a woman ages, she also will lose muscle mass at a faster rate with inactivity. In fact, you can lose 3-5% of your muscle mass with each decade after thirty if you do not exercise. If you are beginning to have pelvic floor dysfunction or develop a prolapse, choices of exercise may be tough to navigate. The team at Spring Forward Physical Therapy can help direct you towards the best exercise for you and your current health state.