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The Pelvic Floor After Menopause

As a woman gets older, the muscles of her pelvic floor may weaken, which can lead to incontinence and uncomfortable sex. However, there are ways to strengthen the area.  The pelvic floor contains a group of muscles that help keep pelvic organs, like the vagina, uterus, and bladder, in place. (Sometimes, this setup is described as a hammock that provides support.)   It’s not just age that causes weak pelvic floor muscles. Obesity and childbirth can put strain on the pelvic floor, too.   How does all this affect sex? A recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that postmenopausal women with weak pelvic floor muscles tended to have poorer sexual function compared to women whose pelvic floor muscles were strong.   Fortunately, there are ways women can keep their pelvic floor muscles in good shape:   •	Try Kegels!  Kegel exercises (named after the American gynecologist who developed them) are one way to give your pelvic floor muscles a workout. This post tells you how to find this muscle group, how to Kegel, and how this practice might improve your sex life.   •	Try pelvic floor physical therapy. Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor disorders. This type of therapy might involve manual therapy, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or vaginal dilators. You might also be assigned exercises to do at home.   If you think your pelvic floor needs strengthening, ask your doctor about the best program for you.       Resources  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists   “Pelvic Support Problems” (October 2017) https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Pelvic-Support-Problems    International Society for Sexual Medicine  “What is pelvic floor physical therapy?” https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy/    The Journal of Sexual Medicine   Omodei, Michelle Sako, MD, et al. “Association Between Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength and Sexual Function in Postmenopausal Women” (Full-text. Published online: October 31, 2019) https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(19)31442-0/fulltext    The North American Menopause Society   “Urinary Incontinence” https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/urinary-incontinence   “Yoga, Kegel Exercises, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy” https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/yoga-kegel-exercises-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy As a woman gets older, the muscles of her pelvic floor may weaken, which can lead to incontinence and uncomfortable sex. However, there are ways to strengthen the area.

The pelvic floor contains a group of muscles that help keep pelvic organs, like the vagina, uterus, and bladder, in place. (Sometimes, this setup is described as a hammock that provides support.)

It’s not just age that causes weak pelvic floor muscles. Obesity and childbirth can put strain on the pelvic floor, too.

How does all this affect sex? A recent Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that postmenopausal women with weak pelvic floor muscles tended to have poorer sexual function compared to women whose pelvic floor muscles were strong.

Fortunately, there are ways women can keep their pelvic floor muscles in good shape:

  • Try Kegels!  Kegel exercises (named after the American gynecologist who developed them) are one way to give your pelvic floor muscles a workout. This post tells you how to find this muscle group, how to Kegel, and how this practice might improve your sex life.
  • Try pelvic floor physical therapy. Your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor disorders. This type of therapy might involve manual therapy, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or vaginal dilators. You might also be assigned exercises to do at home.

If you think your pelvic floor needs strengthening, ask your doctor about the best program for you.

Resources

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

“Pelvic Support Problems”

(October 2017)

https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Pelvic-Support-Problems

International Society for Sexual Medicine

“What is pelvic floor physical therapy?”

https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy/

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Omodei, Michelle Sako, MD, et al.

“Association Between Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength and Sexual Function in Postmenopausal Women”

(Full-text. Published online: October 31, 2019)

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(19)31442-0/fulltext

The North American Menopause Society

“Urinary Incontinence”

https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/causes-of-sexual-problems/urinary-incontinence

“Yoga, Kegel Exercises, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy”

https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/effective-treatments-for-sexual-problems/yoga-kegel-exercises-pelvic-floor-physical-therapy