Pelvic Health After 50

By on September 1, 2012
Pelvic Health

Pelvic health is an issue that women should take seriously, especially after the age of 50. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) are conditions that are common in this age group, and are caused by deterioration in pelvic floor health. Changes in hormone levels and body chemistry during the years leading up to menopause and after can take a toll on the muscles and connective tissues in the pelvic floor, spurring the development of these conditions.

Taking good care of yourself can help ward off these common problems. If you already have SUI or POP, taking some measures to enhance pelvic health can reduce their effects on your daily life and may help you avoid the need for surgical intervention.

Why Pelvic Health is Important

The pelvic floor serves several important purposes in your body, other than aiding in carrying and delivering babies. Made up of muscles and connective tissues, the pelvic floor provides support to pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus and rectum, keeping them in their proper position and aiding in their proper function. The pelvic floor also contributes to balance and supports the spine.

If the pelvic floor becomes weak, problems like stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse become likely. In SUI, the pelvic floor muscles become too weak to stop the flow of urine when abdominal muscles place pressure on the bladder, leading to leakage when a woman coughs or laughs. POP occurs when the pelvic floor becomes too weak to support pelvic organs, causing them to drop low in the pelvis and put pressure on the vagina.

Maintaining Pelvic Health

A variety of measures can help maintain pelvic health. Low-impact exercise is important, especially pelvic floor strengtheners like Kegel exercises. Walking, yoga and Pilates can also help maintain pelvic floor strength. Eating well is important, since proper nutrition supports the health of all tissues in the body.

If you tend toward constipation, add fiber to your diet and increase fluids, since the straining due to constipation can damage the pelvic floor. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help, since women who are overweight are at higher risk for pelvic floor weakening. These same methods are often used to treat these disorders and have been successful at reducing symptoms.

Surgical Correction for SUI and POP

If you have SUI or POP that has not responded to non-invasive treatments, surgical correction may be your best option for relief. However, if you are considering surgery, there are some things you should know about the differences between traditional procedures and those that use vaginal mesh implants. The Food and Drug Administration has issued alerts questioning the safety and effectiveness of transvaginal mesh implants, citing a steep rise in reports of serious complications and a lack of evidence that procedures using mesh have better clinical results than traditional surgeries.

The complications that are most frequently reported are very serious ones, such as erosion of mesh through vaginal tissues, organ perforation, mesh shrinkage and infection. If already affected by these severe complications you can follow the route of many other women by filing a vaginal mesh lawsuit. Be sure to ask your doctor if a procedure that does not use mesh might be best for you.

By Aubrey Hayes

 

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Pelvic Health After 50