Most women are probably dreading one of the most important stages in women’s health- and that is menopause. What with all the misconceptions that others say, it can really add to that unwanted fear and stress. If you’re going to google the definition of menopause it would define it as the occurrence when there is a complete, or near-complete, ovarian follicular depletion of a female’s ovaries and loss of ovarian follicular activity, resulting in the permanent cessation of her menstrual cycle. But what if I tell you that Physical Therapy can also aid you in dealing with menopause? Yes, it can!
Physical therapy can definitely help you when it comes to the physical changes that menopause brings. Here are the common physical changes that women feel during the menopausal stage and how Physical therapy can work its magic in dealing with it.
Insomnia, hot flashes, and weight gain (obesity)
These are the most common signs that a woman is about to enter menopause. The dreaded weight gain and the hormonal changes can also affect someone’s psyche and may cause insomnia. With the right aerobic exercises, you can manage these three signs. If you do sport such as biking or tennis, doctors actually say that it promotes aerobic conditioning. Aside from that, once If not, your Physical therapist will create a plan that will help you become more physically fit and be able to handle these symptoms.
Another way that Physical therapy can help is through massage. Massages can help in so many ways but specifically alleviate anxiety and even depression for menopause.
Bone strength, density, and balance
To be honest, this is the most important thing for Physical therapists to handle. Osteoporosis is one of the major problems when a woman enters menopause. As a woman age, bone density and strength becomes an issue especially if the calcium level of the patient is not sufficient. The bones become brittle and weak with loss of tissue due to the hormonal changes in the body. That’s why physicians and therapists still encourage us to increase our calcium intake. Your PT would also include some weight machines free weights, and exercise bands as part of your exercise plan to improve your muscle strength and bone density. They also incorporate some balance and flexibility routines to reduce the risk of falls and other injuries.
Yes, menopause can bring urinary incontinence and so, your pelvic floor physical therapy plays a big role in this. Your classic Kegel exercise and other pelvic floor exercises will be included in your treatment plan. This will aid you in managing your incontinence and other bladder issues.
In medical terms- Dyspareunia ( the pain a woman experiences before during and after sexual intercourse) actually affects a lot of women. And when I say a lot, I mean millions especially when they are menopausal. According to Physical Therapists, if the main cause is with the pelvic muscles and associated tissues then the treatment would involve relaxation and strengthening. Special soft tissue techniques may also help alleviate dyspareunia, but this will be dependent on your assessment with your PT. . Several months of Pelvic floor therapy would make significant changes and differences. Your Physical therapists will also incorporate specific exercises you can do yourself to help you in your progression.
So you see, Physical therapy encompasses and can help you in so many stages in a woman’s life- from menarche to menopause. Women don’t have to fear that entering menopause can change them in a negative way. It would always depend on your personal outlook and on how you would deal with it. I hope that by sharing these ideas with you, you or any woman in your life may also consider it as a sign of hope into feeling much better about being a woman.