Menopause is a natural biological process marking the end of a woman’s reproductive years. As the body undergoes significant hormonal shifts during perimenopause and menopause, various physiological changes unfold, impacting overall health, including the pelvic floor. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the hormonal fluctuations that occur during perimenopause and menopause and explore why pelvic floor training is crucial during the perimenopausal stage.
Hormonal fluctations during peri-menopause and menopause
Menopause is characterised by the cessation of menstruation, typically occurring around the age of 50. However, the transition to menopause, known as perimenopause, can start in a woman’s 40s (or even as early as 35) and bring about hormonal fluctuations, particularly in estrogen levels. Estrogen, a hormone responsible for maintaining the health of reproductive tissues, plays a vital role in supporting the pelvic floor muscles.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels can vary significantly, leading to a range of symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and changes in sexual function. Importantly, these hormonal shifts also impact the pelvic floor, contributing to issues like pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and decreased pelvic muscle tone.
Pelvic floor dysfunction in peri-menopause and beyond
There is often a correlation between hormonal changes during perimenopause and an increased prevalence of pelvic floor dysfunction. Many women entering menopause experience symptoms such as weakened pelvic muscles, urinary incontinence, and a higher susceptibility to pelvic organ prolapse.
As estrogen levels decline, the pelvic floor muscles may lose elasticity and tone, leading to a range of issues. Additionally, the thinning of the vaginal walls, known as vaginal atrophy, can contribute to discomfort and pain during intercourse, further emphasizing the need for targeted pelvic floor exercises.
The importance of pelvic floor training in midlife
Engaging in pelvic floor training during perimenopause is crucial for maintaining pelvic health and addressing potential issues that may arise. Here’s why:
Muscle Tone and Support: Pelvic floor exercises help strengthen and tone the muscles that provide crucial support to pelvic organs. This can reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse and enhance overall pelvic stability.
Incontinence Management: Pelvic floor training has been shown to be effective in managing urinary incontinence, a common issue during perimenopause. Strengthening these muscles can improve bladder control and reduce leakage.
Enhanced Sexual Function: Pelvic floor exercises promote better blood flow to the pelvic region, contributing to improved sexual function. They can also address vaginal atrophy, helping alleviate discomfort during intercourse.
Preventive Measures: Starting pelvic floor training early in perimenopause serves as a proactive approach to prevent or mitigate potential pelvic floor issues. Regular exercises can support the pelvic muscles against the effects of hormonal fluctuations.
In conclusion, understanding the impact of hormonal fluctuations on the pelvic floor during menopause underscores the importance of proactive pelvic floor training. By incorporating targeted exercises into your routine, you can support pelvic health, manage symptoms, and enhance overall quality of life during this transformative stage of womanhood.
Beth Davies is a highly experienced personal trainer and coach specialising in female pelvic health, pelvic organ prolapse and exercise. Her programmes educate, empower and support women back to training or their active life, eliminating symptoms and building strength and confidence. She has been featured in publications such as Stylist, Marie Claire UK, Woman & Home, and Metro