Menopause and Pelvic Health

Menopause and Pelvic Health

During menopause, estrogen levels begin to decrease. These hormonal changes can cause pelvic organs and tissues to become thinner and weaker. This is a natural part of menopause, but if pelvic tissues have been weakened by other factors, such as pregnancy, childbirth, smoking or obesity, it can begin to cause problems.

One of the most common conditions diagnosed during menopause is called Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). It occurs in approximately 50 percent of women, but its symptoms can be minimized, or avoided, if women pay attention to pelvic health.

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

Dr. Camren Nezrat of Standford University describes a pelvic prolapse as; ‘Major symptoms noted by patients with descensus (falling away from a higher position) are a feeling of heaviness, fullness, or falling out in the perineal area (the region between the thighs, in the female between the vulva and the anus). In cases where the cervix and uterus are low in the vaginal canal, the cervix may be seen protruding from the introitus (vaginal opening), giving the patient the impression that a tumor is bulging out of her vagina’.

The vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. The vagina connects the uterus to the outside world. The vulva and labia form the entrance, and the cervix of the uterus protrudes into the vagina, forming the interior end.

The vagina receives the penis during sexual intercourse and also serves as a conduit for menstrual flow from the uterus. During childbirth, the baby passes through the vagina (birth canal).

The hymen is a thin membrane of tissue that surrounds and narrows the vaginal opening. It may be torn or ruptured by sexual activity or by exercise.

Once pelvic tissues and muscles become weakened, they can begin to shift. Due to gravity, they usually drop toward the pelvic floor. In mild cases of POP, there may be no visible or tangible symptoms. In these cases, women are usually diagnosed with POP during a routine pelvic exam.

In moderate to severe cases of POP, pelvic organs can drop so low they actually prolapse into the vaginal canal. The most common organs affected by POP include the uterus, bladder and rectum. If the side effects of POP become severe enough, they may require surgical intervention. Although many surgical procedures used to treat POP are successful, there is always a risk of health complications. Women should make an effort to understand the risks and benefits of available treatment options.

Although 50 percent of women are diagnosed with POP, just a small percentage of those women end up with symptoms severe enough to require surgical treatment. The other women are able to manage POP by taking care of their bodies, and focusing on exercises that can improve the health and tone of their pelvic muscles and tissues.

Pelvic Health Can Prevent Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Attention to pelvic health can prevent, or minimize, the symptoms of POP. This can be done in a variety of ways, including: Living a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are important in maintaining overall health, which promotes pelvic health as well.

Excessive weight has been linked to POP, so women who maintain a healthy weight have a better chance of avoiding more severe cases of POP. Smoking is also a factor. Any woman who smokes should make a concentrated effort to quit as soon as possible.

Exercising the pelvic floor. There are exercises that isolate pelvic floor muscles. One example of these are Kegel exercises. Daily Kegel exercises can keep pelvic tissues strong and prevent uncomfortable symptoms of POP.

If a woman is diagnosed with POP, she should discuss the full range of treatment options with her doctor.

Surgical intervention can be successful but can also pose serious health risks. This is especially true for women who have transvaginal mesh surgery.

Vaginal mesh has been linked to thousands of cases of serious medical complications, some of which have been impossible to reverse. This has lead to several hundred Transvaginal mesh lawsuits to be filed.

Focusing on pelvic health during menopause can help mitigate the symptoms of POP and reduce the chances of needing surgical treatments.

Aubrey Hayes,
National Awareness Director
DrugWatch.com

Speak Your Mind

*

Copyright 2014 @ A Celebration of Women™ The World Hub for Women Leaders That Care