Guest post by Jen Juneau.
According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated one-third of U.S. women will develop a pelvic-health issue by age 60. This risk naturally increases with age, but aside from aging alone, other factors that may influence the development of these problems include:
- Obesity/extra weight
- History of childbirth
- Chronic coughing (often caused by smoking)
Pelvic problems include, but are not limited to, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pelvic-organ prolapse and urinary incontinence – the latter two of which are often treated with surgery.
While surgery may be the solution your doctor recommends and one you ultimately decide on trying, it’s important for you to stay informed about all of your options. For example, surgery involving transvaginal mesh is getting a large amount of negative buzz, resulting in numerous lawsuits being filed against the manufactures of mesh. Make sure you research the procedure and its known complications and ask questions of your doctor.
It’s possible that you will never have pelvic-health problems. If that’s the case, that’s wonderful. But women who aren’t that fortunate should know that these kinds of health issues don’t get better over time. This is why, as you approach menopause, it’s important to acknowledge and treat these conditions as soon as possible. Some of the options that you can consider include hormone replacement therapy, estrogen vaginal cream or a combination of diet, exercise and physical therapy. These treatments all have one thing in common – they don’t require surgery. Talk to your doctor about which option is best for you.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) involves taking synthetic hormones to treat a variety of conditions, including menopause. These hormones act naturally once in your body and can lessen symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness and itching. These come in skin-patch, gel, pill, spray, or cream form.
Estrogen Vaginal Cream or Ring
Estrogen vaginal cream releases a lower dose of estrogen into the body, helping to rebuild the vaginal lining and promoting collagen generation. The estrogen vaginal ring works similarly to the cream, but releases estrogen daily for three continuous months (the cream is usually applied more often). Many doctors recommend this treatment as a great way to support the vaginal epithelium (tissue lining inside the vagina) which thins over time and can create a multitude of problems – including perforation by transvaginal mesh.
Diet, Exercise and Physical Therapy
For those women who have the option of taking a more natural approach to their conditions, diet, pelvic-floor exercises and/or physical therapy are great treatments to consider. Staying at a healthy weight naturally puts less pressure on your body parts – including your pelvic organs. The lesson? Eat well, toss the cigarettes if you smoke, and start moving. These lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your body.
Upon approval from your doctor, it’s also a great idea to try pelvic-floor exercises. Arguably the most popular of these is the Kegel, which is simple to perform and for which step-by-step instructions are easily found online. Seeing a physical therapist can take you one step further and give you an idea of exactly which muscles you need to be strengthening.
Jen Juneau is a content writer for Drugwatch.com. She enjoys researching medical issues, as well as technical and creative writing. Join the Drugwatch community and listen to Drugwatch Radio podcast to find out more.