Tips for Preventing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD)
With age comes the benefits of experience, wisdom, and senior discounts. All of those are good and should be embraced. But there’s also a downside to having more birthdays under your belt – menopause and an aging body. And they come without invitation, so you can’t prevent their arrival. You can, however, minimize their affects on your pelvic floor.
There’s a connection between menopause and your pelvic floor, so the sooner you take action the better. Furthermore, pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) may be easier to prevent than treat, and it may be less severe if you start working on it now.
While age and menopause are inevitable, pelvic floor issues don’t have to be. A risk assessment with your medical provider can go along way toward discovering risks – whether avoidable or not – so you can be proactive about them. Your doctor can go over your personal and family history, review your diet and medications, and help you look for lifestyle choices which may be adding to your risks.
Specific risk factors she’ll review with you will include:
- your family history,
- whether there’s a weight issue,
- previous pregnancies and deliveries,
- prior pelvic trauma and surgeries including hysterectomy,
- chronic constipation,
- chronic cough,
- smoking habits,
- history of back pain,
- your exercise routine,
- whether you lift weights regularly, and
- your state of menopause.
Once you and your doctor have determined your personal risk for PFD, you can get started on reducing your risks. You might need to make the following adjustments to your lifestyle:
- quit smoking,
- lose weight,
- avoid heavy lifting,
- treat constipation,
- avoid straining with bowel movements,
- treating chronic coughing, and
- follow a safe exercise plan.
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Besides reducing risks for PFD, you can also work to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Doing your Kegel exercises regularly is a good place to start, but your doctor can also refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor physical therapy for women. Strengthening your pelvic floor may reduce or eliminate some bladder and bowel issues, help treat or prevent pelvic organ prolapse, and, as an added bonus, improve sexual function.
After Menopause: Ask about HRT
Lack of estrogen can be a key culprit in developing PFD during menopause, so sit down and talk with your doctor. There are a number of different hormone delivery systems and doses from which to choose, depending on your situation and current symptoms. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may not be right for all women, estrogen is an important part of having a healthy pelvic floor.
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: Tips for Preventing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD)