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Pei-Jiun Cheah

Pei-Jiun Cheah

Menopause

The menopausal transition is a normal part of being a woman that affects each woman uniquely, at different ages and in various ways.

Many women find this transition challenging to manage all the different symptoms that can occur.

 

Changes to bladder and bowel control and the function of the pelvic floor muscle

Vaginal health is an essential component to healthy aging for all women. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping the tissues of our vulva, vagina, bladder and pelvic floor muscles strong and flexible. When oestrogen levels drop due to menopause, it is common for women to experience pelvic symptoms such as;

  • Leakage of urine with coughs, sneezes, or exercise

  • Leakage of urine on the way to the toilet

  • Getting up twice or more overnight to pass urine

  • Frequent urinary tract infections

  • Rushing to the toilet to open bowels

  • Being unable to control wind

  • Constipation

  • Pelvic pain

  • vaginal dryness, itching, and discomfort

 

Changes to bone and muscle strength

A decrease in estrogen levels after menopause may lead to thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis) and an increased risk of fractures. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the first 5-7 years post menopause, as estrogen levels drop. Up to 8% muscle strength is lost per decade from the age of 30 if no steps are taken to counteract this! Hence, it is of great importance especially for women over 30 to engage in activities that build and maintain muscle and bone strength. Such activities include Pilates, activities in the gym or at home that incorporate weights that challenge your musculature in your workouts.

Changes in mood

You may experience mood changes such as depression and anxiety. You may feel more irritable around the time of menopause. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens. However, it can be related to changing hormonal balance and stressors from other transitions that women are often dealing with around the time. For example, family changes such as caring for aging parents, supporting their children as they move into adulthood, career changes like taking on new responsibilities at work.

 

Physical changes

Various physical changes can develop around the time of menopause. You may experience;

  • loss of muscle bulk

  • a buildup of fat around the abdomen

  • weight gain

  • changes in hair colour, texture and volume

  • joint/muscle aches and pains

 

Other changes include hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, sleep disturbances.

How can we help you?

At Mind Heart Body Center, we offer Physiotherapy consultations, Pilates/Physio classes, online Bones and Balance Classes, acupuncture and meditation to help you manage the above changes.

We offer:

  • Physical assessment of the pelvic floor function, strength and endurance using Real Time Ultrasound.

  • Internal Vaginal Assessments to help further assess pelvic floor function

  • Rehabilitation which may include pelvic floor muscle exercises, retraining and changes to lifestyle and bowel habits and pain management. Real Time Ultrasound can be used to facilitate rehabilitation.

  • Education and advice on good bladder and bowel habits, continence aids such as pads and pants, as well as on daily activities and fitness.

  • Pessary fittings

  • Individual exercise programmes

  • Acupuncture to help manage hot flushes and imbalances

  • Meditation to help encourage mental and emotional resilience

Outcomes from treatment may include:

  • Correct use of pelvic floor muscles, which help improve strength and length of the pelvic floor muscles

  • Improved management of the symptoms

  • Improved incontinence (bladder and bowel), urgency, or emptying.

  • Less incidence of urinary tract infections

  • Reduced constipation

  • Management of pain conditions

  • Improved confidence and increased activity and exercise levels

 

In our Pilates/Physio classes, our physiotherapists and instructors will design and supervise an appropriate exercise program tailored to your individual needs. Exercises can help you manage;

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction: Specific pelvic floor muscle exercises are prescribed to address your symptoms. Aim may be to strengthen and build muscles, improve muscle relaxation and train your bladder.

  • Bone density: Loading/weight bearing exercises can improve bone mineral density by stimulating bone growth and slowing the process of degeneration.

  • Lowered mood and depression: Exercises have been shown to decrease symptoms of depression, improve your mood and the quality of your sleep, which helps you have more energy and feel less fatigued.

  • Loss of muscle bulk and strength: The same decline in bones happens as with muscles. If strengthening exercise is not started or continued at menopause, a significant reduction in strength and bulk can occur at this time. Resistance training using weights, exercise bands and body weight is the safest way to build bones and muscles.

  • Joint aches and pains: Improving muscle strength and control helps ease load around the joints and reduce pain.

Contact us for more information on how we can help you manage your transition through menopause. Bookings are available with our Exercise Rehab Physiotherapists and Women’s and Pelvic Health Physiotherapists.

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