Understanding Why Menopausal Women Are At Risk Of PFDs
Menopause, along with pregnancy and childbirth, has been recognized by medical experts as one of the main factors for the occurrence of pelvic floor disorders (PFD), particularly stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the most common form of PFD. SUI is expected to be experienced by nearly 40 percent of women in the menopausal stage and by the time they reach 80 years of age, the risk of surgery will be 20 percent.
To gain a better understanding and hopefully will help in addressing these life-altering conditions, reasons for this occurrence are presented below:
Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
Just like the rest of the muscles in the body, the pelvic floor muscles also start to weaken and lose mass as one gets older. Studies have shown that muscle strength deteriorates by five percent every decade after the age of 30. Menopause has been closely tied with the ageing process with women experiencing this stage between the ages of 45 and 55 years.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) may result when the pelvic floor muscles lose strength since it may not be able to support pelvic organs such as the bladder and bowel causing these to descend or drop from their normal positions towards the vaginal wall.
Bladder’s Loss of Elasticity
Similar to the weakening of the muscles, the bladder may also become less elastic as one grows in age. The muscles of the bladder may become overactive with this loss of elasticity since this irritates the bladder making it difficult to stretch. Stress incontinence or frequent urination may result which is made worse by the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.
Loss of Estrogen
The loss of the hormone estrogen has been associated with the onset of menopause. Vaginal dryness in the vaginal lining and urethra may be experienced by a woman once the level of estrogen drops. Incontinence and other pelvic disorders such as urinary tract infections may be made worse with this vaginal dryness.
As they grow older, even before the onset of menopause, women start to gain weight. As women enter the menopausal stage, this weight gain, due to several factors, may become more pronounced.
Any additional weight may tend to put a strain on the pelvic floor muscles which may result to the weakening of these muscles. Incontinence and prolapse may then ensue once this happens since the muscles may not be able to support the bladder and the bowel.
While the menopausal stage in a woman’s life may be considered an inevitable, this does not mean that one has to live with these disorders. As proven by clinical trials, there are many things a woman may do to prevent or manage these conditions without undergoing invasive treatments. It has been shown that behavioral and lifestyle changes have been very effective in managing these disorders and have allowed women to maintain a positive quality of life.
Hopefully, surgical procedures may not be needed by a woman suffering from POP or SUI with these conservative measures. In light of the controversy surrounding vaginal mesh surgeries, this surgical option may only put unnecessary risks to women. These procedures, which have become very common recommendations among doctors, have caused severe complications resulting to serious injuries.