Pelvic floor and menopause

Pelvic floor and menopause

The pelvic floor, in menopause, can thin out making it difficult to respond to contraction and relaxation. Urinary incontinence is one of the most frequent ailments at this stage of life.

Pelvic floor and menopause

Menopause marks a turning point in every woman’s life. Beyond the more obvious symptoms , such as hot flashes, mood swings and weight gain, menopause causes important changes even on a more hidden, but certainly no less important level.

We are talking about the pelvic floor , the set of muscles that acts as a support for the internal organs and the female genital organs, and which therefore plays a fundamental role in a woman’s well-being, even at a sexual level. But how does the pelvic floor change in menopause and how to limit the discomfort?

How the pelvic floor changes in menopause

The pelvic floor is a set of rhomboid-shaped muscles , a kind of “hammock” on which the female internal organs rest. The drastic slowdown in the production of estrogen by the ovaries, together with advancing age, causes tangible changes in the tone and elasticity of the pelvic floor.

Muscles are weaker and tend to thin , and their response in terms of contraction and relaxation decreases: progressively the pelvic floor reduces its ability to support organs (this is the reason for prolapses, such as vaginal prolapse and bladder prolapse) and to respond to stimuli effectively (with the appearance of urinary incontinence and in some cases even fecal). 

Urinary incontinence: the most common “symptom” of menopause

Incontinence is in fact one of the disorders that most frequently accompanies menopause . By reducing the muscular ability to open and close the urethra and anus, urinary and fecal incontinence can appear.

The most common urinary incontinence can be of two types . Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks precisely following physical exertion, such as lifting a weight, but also with coughing or laughter; urge incontinence occurs when the urge to urinate cannot be held back.

Incontinence, although very common, is a disorder that is very difficult to talk about (and therefore to solve) and which can also become extremely limiting for a woman’s life. 

Pelvic floor and sexual intercourse in menopause

And the disorders related to the sexual sphere that accompany menopause can also be extremely limiting. Not only does the decrease in estrogen cause a decrease in sexual desire and the almost total disappearance of natural lubrication, but the loss of tone on the part of the pelvic floor can make sexual intercourse painful and unpleasant.

The ability of the pelvic muscles and therefore of the vagina to contract is in fact essential to feel pleasure during sex and to reach orgasm. And in the case of vaginal prolapse, uterus or other organs, the pleasure of sex is further affected.

Strengthening the pelvic floor in menopause

The good news is that counteracting the effects of menopause on the pelvic floor (and all that goes with it) is possible and within everyone’s reach. The ideal would be to play in advance, starting to take care of your pelvic floor as early as thirty, and especially after pregnancies and births.

But it is never too late to discover pelvic floor training exercises and auxiliary and rehabilitative tools to restore tone. Kegel exercises, vaginal balls and electrostimulators can make a decisive contribution to female well-being at any age.Pelvic gymnastics, vaginal balls and electrostimulators

In case of prolapse or serious incontinence it is absolutely essential to contact a specialist to identify the most correct path for your situation. Electrostimulators, which induce muscle contraction with an electrical impulse, are the most suitable pelvic floor rehabilitation tools in these cases, but it is good to learn how to use them under medical supervision.

If, on the other hand, you happen to “miss a drop” when you sneeze and notice that something no longer works as it did in the bedroom, you can resort to pelvic gymnastics and vaginal balls, which are easier to manage even on your own.

Performing the contraction and relaxation exercises of the pelvic muscles daily and consistently, in combination or not with the vaginal balls, can give appreciable results already after a few weeks.

The most suitable pelvic gymnastics exercises in menopause

We have seen that pelvic gymnastics is suitable for all ages . However, some exercises are more suitable than others in menopause, due to their simplicity of execution and their positive repercussions on other muscles (and on the back). Here are three easy exercises to do at home, with comfortable clothing and a thin mat on the floor.

> Sitting on the ground with the buttocks on the heels , contract the pelvic muscles and hold the contraction for 5 seconds. Follow with a 10 second relaxation and repeat 10 times. When you have learned how to do this exercise, try to maintain the contraction as long as possible.

> Sitting on the ground with your back straight , join the soles of your feet, bringing them as close as possible to your body, pushing your knees towards the floor. Contract the perineal muscles as you inhale and then, exhaling slowly, release the contraction and lean forward, bringing your head towards your feet. Repeat in series of 5 times each. 

In the quadrupedal position , with your hands resting on the ground, your arms straight and your shins resting on the floor, arch your back upwards, simultaneously contracting the perineal muscles. Maintain the contraction for at least 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.


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