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Can Physical Therapy Help My Menopause?

Can Physical Therapy Help My Menopause?

by Alicia Bothell PT, DPT, PCES, CDNT, ATC-RLeave a Comment

You probably know about “typical” menopause symptoms – trouble sleeping, mood swings, and hot flashes are a few that come to mind right away. Did you know that your pelvic floor undergoes changes as well? Read on to learn how pelvic health physical therapy (PT) can help with these changes!

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction And Menopause Are Related

Estrogen production drops during perimenopause and menopause. This causes many changes to the blood flow and lubrication of the pelvic floor muscles and tissues. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Decreased pelvic floor muscle strength
  • Urinary Incontinence
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased libido
  • Pain with intercourse

Urinary Incontinence

Estrogen level changes cause pelvic floor muscle weakness, which therefore reduces support for the bladder, bowel, and uterus. A pelvic health PT can evaluate pelvic floor muscle contraction strength and the ability to relax these muscles. They can then put together a comprehensive treatment plan to strengthen the pelvic floor, buttocks, core, and hips to improve urinary leakage and eliminate the need to wear absorbent protection. The best treatment is more than just Kegels, which can worsen leakage if not performed correctly!

Bladder Tips:

  • Decrease liquid intake two hours before bed
  • “Train” the bladder to minimize a strong urge to urinate frequently
  • Avoid bladder irritants (acidic drinks, carbonation, caffeine)
  • Perform regular exercises to strengthen the core, hips, and pelvic floor

Sexual Function

Lowering estrogen levels leads to vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and tissue thinning. Working with your doctor and a pelvic health PT can help decrease the discomfort that these changes can cause. Prescriptions and over-the-counter treatments can be used for dryness, as well as stretches that can minimize or eliminate pain with intercourse. All of these symptoms can be discussed with your doctor as well. It can be uncomfortable for some to bring these issues up, but please know that your provider is more than willing to discuss these topics with you, and there are treatment options.

Strength Training

Your physical therapist can also assist with establishing an exercise program that can maintain and improve muscle strength. Decreasing estrogen can also cause muscle weakness, leading to decreased balance, falls, and other orthopedic injuries. Bone density may also be improved with proper resistance training. A PT specializing in the pelvic health can also instruct you in performing these exercises properly, so as not to increase symptoms associated with pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti, and other gynecological surgeries. You are not just your pelvic floor; a physical therapist will look at the whole picture!

Treatment Options

Being open with your medical provider about your menopause symptoms and not just brushing them off as “normal” is number one. So many times, a provider may not ask, and you may not volunteer information. It can be uncomfortable to discuss brain fog, fatigue, bladder or bowel leakage, or changes in sexual function, but once it is discussed, treatment solutions can begin!

If you are unsure where to start or would like to speak with an expert who can help you navigate menopause, contact a Pelvic Health Therapist. Athletico’s pelvic health therapist will assess your condition and recommend appropriate treatment options for you.

Find a Pelvic Health Therapist Near You

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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Alicia Bothell holds her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Marquette University. She specializes in treating pelvic health and orthopedic patients. She is a Certified Pregnancy and Postpartum Exercise Specialist and is also certified in dry needling. Alicia is the Athletico Regional Coordinator for Pelvic Health for OH/IN/MI. She enjoys educating her patients and the public about topics in pelvic health.

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