Wollongong Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Menopause and Physiotherapy

Mar 07, 2024

Menopause is a natural part of the ageing process and changes experienced during menopause can have a significant impact on a patient’s wellbeing and quality of life. There is a general lack of awareness regarding the symptoms, both physical and emotional, experienced by women going through menopause.

It is essential to recognise that a woman’s experience of menopause is personal and individual.

Symptoms of menopause may include one or more of the following:

  • Vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and sweats)
    • occurs in approx. 75% of post-menopausal women (median duration 7 years).
  • Psychological and cognitive symptoms
    • there is a 50% decrease in serotonin (chemical that regulates mood, emotions and sleep)
    • mood changes, anxiety, irritability
  • Muscle and bone changes
    • Decreasing oestrogen results in increasing calcium loss.
    • 1 in 3 women after the age of 50 experience a “fragility fracture”
  • Metabolic changes- increased risk of cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in women)
    • Oestrogen made by the body, protects against heart disease by raising the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood.
  • Urogenital symptoms (genitourinary syndrome of menopause GSM)
    • vaginal dryness, irritation, itching
    • pain with intercourse (dyspareunia)
    • increased risk of urinary tract infections (thinning in the urinary tract tissue)
    • relaxation of pelvic floor muscles

Exercise and Menopause

Regular exercise is important in all stages of life but can be particularly helpful to manage symptoms associated with managing menopause. A mix of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training are equally important for women during this period. For postmenopausal women, research has shown that those who participate in regular resistance training are less likely to experience losses in muscle mass and strength compared to those who participate in other forms of exercise, such as stretching and mobility.

Pelvic Floor Health and Menopause

Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) is a term used to describe the multiple anatomical and functional changes that affect the external genitalia, vagina, bladder, urethra and pelvic floor tissues, which occur at menopause. It is estimated that at least 50% of women suffer from GSM but only 7-10% seek advice.

GSM increases the risk of:

  • Vaginal infections - changes in the acid balance of the vagina make vaginal infections more likely.
  • Urinary problems - urinary changes may include increased frequency or urgency of urination or burning with urination. Some women experience more urinary tract infections or urine leakage (incontinence).

Urinary incontinence affects more than 50% of post-menopausal women.

How can a Physiotherapist help?

Ramsay Health Plus women’s health physiotherapists are experienced in treating menopausal symptoms to help women through this difficult phase of their lives and can assess you individually and tailor an exercise program to address any particular issues and goals that patients may have.

An evaluation with a women’s health physiotherapist will typically involve discussing specific symptoms, evaluating pelvic floor health and general mobility and posture.

Based on the evaluation, a specific treatment program will be devised to help maintain the body in optimal condition. General exercise and targeted exercises can help to restore strength, cardiovascular fitness and balance, helping to improve wellbeing.

Ramsay Health Plus Figtree offers women-centred physiotherapy services to assess, diagnosis and treat a variety of conditions that affect women throughout their life stages; from early adulthood to pregnancy, post-partum, menopause and beyond.