As women with busy lives and responsibilities, we have a tendency to ignore our body when it is talking to us. We can be inclined to neglect painful, obvious symptoms because we don’t put enough value on our health and wellbeing, or we are embarrassed to admit to ourselves and others that things are going wrong or perhaps we are scared as to what the diagnosis and implications of those symptoms might mean?
Dashing to the loo, pain when inserting a tampon or menstrual cup, itchy vulva, sore, itchy vagina, painful sex, urinary tract infections (UTI’s)? All of these are COMMON perimenopause and menopause symptoms that can be easily explained and correlated with the decline of our oestrogen production. They are nothing to be embarrassed about, however, they could be indicator’s of something more serious or lead to long term problems if ignored or misdiagnosed.
Vulva and vaginal dryness and itchiness can be caused by the naturally thinning tissue in this sensitive area, so before you reach for the meds and even before the symptoms start, soothe the skin daily with a fragrance-free vaginal moisturiser. Treat this area like you would your face. Many women self-diagnose these symptoms as thrush and reach for an over the counter treatment without even discussing their symptoms with the pharmacist. If the condition doesn’t clear up a trip to the GP could result in a stronger prescription or antibiotics. When actually all you need is to moisturise.
If you suffer from reoccurring UTI’s cut our sugar. If symptoms persist, insist on a urine test at your GP’s before you cash in your prescription for antibiotics. Many UTI’s are caused by too much sugar in the diet and/or a thinning of the tissue in the bladder due to oestrogen loss. A urine test will show whether or not there is an infection and if there is no infection, there is no need to take antibiotics. A simple change in diet and a referral to a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to help strengthen or relax the pelvic floor could be the treatment you need rather than prescription drugs.
Soreness, pain and itchiness should not be ignored. Vaginismus is an involuntary tightening of the vagina. This can be a phycological issue caused by trauma more than a physical issue and needs to be treated as such.
Vulvodynia is persistent pain in and around the vulva and vagina. The vulva usually looks normal but you experience a burning, stinging or throbbing pain triggered by touch and the simple task of sitting down can be painful. Have you stopped wearing Jeans because they exacerbate the discomfort? Don’t ignore this, don’t self diagnose, get it sorted.
Pain in the genital/pelvic area is often embarrassing to talk about but it’s SO important to get these issues properly treated. Ask to see a female GP/menopause specialist and push for a referral to a Women’s Health Physio – they do amazing work in diagnosing and treating the most painful of issues in the most sensitive and precious parts of the female body.
Although hidden from view the pelvic area is the centre of our feminine and needs love and attention. It plays a crucial part in our wellbeing, so tend to it, nurture it and don’t ignore the signs that something’s not quite right. Being busy is not an excuse to stop looking after yourself. 🙏🏻