Women can spend one-third or more of their life living through times of change that impact their entire body. Perimenopause itself can consume the best part of a decade, yet many women in their thirties and forties don’t even realise it is happening.
From our late thirties onwards, the levels of oestrogen and other sex hormones in our bodies begin to fluctuate and naturally decline.
This change in hormones can lead to a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, which can persist and come and go.
The reduction of oestrogen and other sex hormones means maintaining and building muscle becomes harder and bone density can be lost. These changes can affect the pelvic floor muscles leading to bladder problems, bowel dysfunction or prolapse. Reduced oestrogen around the vaginal tissues can lead to dryness and discomfort during sex, and for some women, this dryness can increase bladder urgency and discomfort. Reduction in testosterone can reduce libido in some women, and this, in combination with fear of leaking, dryness or discomfort can leave women feeling less than their best selves.
Many women experience an uncertain and daunting menopause journey however, with increased awareness and education, this is set to change. If you recognise the onset of these symptoms as related to the changes in your hormones, these years can be embraced as a time to prioritise your health and empower yourself to thrive for the latter half of your life.
Finding the right team of people to help you is the best place to start.
For women in their thirties or forties experiencing a change in their menstrual cycle, mood changes or other menopause symptoms like hot flushes, brain fog or anxiety, the first sensible stop is their GP. GP’s can organise blood tests to determine hormone levels (blood tests aren’t required if a woman is over 45 and is symptomatic) discuss symptoms and check that your body is functioning well. Eating a healthy diet and finding an exercise that you can enjoy regularly is a great way to stay strong and optimise your bone health as oestrogen declines. Talking to your friends and employers about symptoms that affect you can take the pressure off daily activities and allow you the freedom to look after yourself.
Specialist pelvic health physiotherapists are a great addition to a woman’s ‘menopause team’. By asking the questions your other health care providers may have missed, specialist pelvic health physiotherapists can help you get your pelvic floor strength back, improve bladder or bowel symptoms and help to make sex fun again. In addition, they are well versed on who else you may need to seek help from, whether that is a gynaecologist to consider hormone replacement therapy, a nutritionist to optimise your diet for a healthy lifestyle, or a psychologist to help boost your mood and reduce the brain fog.
With age comes change, but change can be empowering.
With the right team behind you, your menopause journey can go from being a lonely time to an opportunity to learn about yourself, your body, and your relationships to make things even better than before.
At LETO a menopause check includes a thorough assessment of your history including bothersome symptoms, how you are feeling and finding out your goals. Specialist treatments include
- strength and conditioning exercise to support reduced muscle mass or bone density
- pelvic floor muscle training to improve confidence in your bladder and bowel
- manual therapy to reduce tension In the pelvic floor
- consideration of a pessary to treat bothersome prolapse
- ThermiVa® vaginal rejuvenation to Improve symptoms of heaviness, dryness or leaking.
Each women’s menopause journey is different. By finding what matters to you we/a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist can help to improve not just your physical symptoms but most importantly your confidence and quality of life.