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Prioritize Pelvic Wellness Before Perimenopause

As women approach 40, we start hearing chatter about menopause. The symptoms are accepted and expected. Although hormonal changes are specific to each person, physical symptoms like aching joints, vaginal dryness, leaking pee or going often, and intimacy becoming uncomfortable are acknowledged and have become the norm.

These are symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction that are exacerbated by the change in hormones during perimenopause. But these dysfunctions are worsened by perimenopause and could have been prevented by addressing the first signs that are typically overlooked.

As we continue to age, these issues continue and worsen, leading women to get joint replacements, injections, medications, creams, pelvic organ surgeries, and more.

But when we see a severe diagnosis, we often look back to see how it could have been prevented because pelvic wellness is undertreated. Many people believe that these issues are just from aging.

Truly, most women are undereducated regarding their pelvic floor and sexual health, therefore unaware that issues we live with over decades caused by accidents, trauma, pregnancies, births, infections, and injuries leave a trace and compile, creating compensations that our bodies navigate to help offset pelvic floor dysfunction.

As a woman in my mid-30s, I can recognize that I know someone who has been assaulted, someone who has been in a severe car accident, someone who has had a baby, someone who has had a miscarriage, someone who has been struggling with fertility, someone who has had traumatic births, someone who has been hurt working out, someone who has struggled with UTIs. Because these are common experiences for women.

As we go through life, we will more than likely experience one of these things, as sad as it is in some cases. Even without those specific experiences a female’s natural anatomy stores stress in the hips and pelvic floor. That’s why I encourage every woman to get an internal assessment.

So why is it that the majority of women have NO IDEA that these experiences affect their pelvic floor?

Having these experiences affects your overall health and will change the quality of your life as you age.

You might be thinking, “How can something that happened years ago be affecting me today?”

There are several reasons, the first being we are never taught how to use our Pelvic Floors. The only thing we really hear about is Kegels, which are pelvic floor contractions. This action becomes second nature to us. “It makes sex better,” “it keeps you from peeing your pants,” “it makes you stronger for birth” when it actually makes all of those things worse…

That leads me to the second reason. The pelvic floor consists of three layers, and these layers of muscle are susceptible to adhesions and can be scarred by trauma, birth, or infections. Those adhesions are weblike and spread and restrict blood flow to these muscles. So imagine you have a web of adhesions throughout your muscles and you continue to do contractions which limits blood flow as well. Over time, that reduced blood flow from the contractures and adhesions leads to a muscle that is very tense, also known as hypertonic. When a muscle is in this state of contraction, it cannot function properly.

Now when we relate it to pelvic floor dysfunction that we commonly see exacerbated during perimenopause, it makes more sense that women start experiencing more leakage, joint pain, and sex has become uncomfortable. This muscle cannot relax; therefore, it is unable to naturally recoil during workouts or when we cough or sneeze. It is unable to support our joints and offset the force we exert, so that leads to more joint pain. Sex is uncomfortable because these muscles are essentially stiff and dehydrated, which explains vaginal dryness and discomfort.

That is why prioritizing your pelvic wellness during perimenopause, if not before, is so essential. When we look at the most common issues women in their later life are dealing with, it is joint replacements, bladder surgeries, and chronic back pain. Those suffering with these issues are not living a life free of pain; they don’t have the independence they once had, and when you’re struggling with pain or incontinence, it makes prioritizing exercise a problem.

So what needs to happen so that you are in a good place prior to perimenopause?

Internal manual pelvic floor therapy is THE SOLUTION.

No cream, tool or supplement is going to address the adhesions or scar tissue present. No magical device is going to restore your pelvic floor range of motion or reconnect you with these muscles.

A Pelvic Expert at Body Motion Physical Therapy will do an internal assessment on each of the three levels of the pelvic floor and begin breaking up the adhesions and scar tissue to restore blood flow. You will learn how to coordinate your breath and movement with these muscles so that your body’s natural function is reestablished.

Our bodies naturally contract our pelvic floor; we should NEVER have to think about it. I know that sounds counterintuitive but just a reminder that Kegel’s were created by a man… so yeah.

Having that natural function restored is going to keep your pants dry, it’s going to make sex more enjoyable. It’s going to protect your joints every step of the way because that is what the Pelvic Floor does.

Prevention is key, let’s not wait until we need joint replacements and have suffered for years to ensure that our future selves can feel their best.

AUTHOR

Allison Feldt

Body Motion Physical Therapy

"We Help Women Through Fertility, Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum and Beyond So They Can Live Active, Confident, Healthy Lives Without The Need For Medication Or Surgery"
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