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Beyond Menopause: Tackling Genitourinary Syndrome with Confidence

Menopause marks a significant transition in a woman's life, often accompanied by changes that can affect not just hormonal balance but also overall health. One of the lesser-discussed but significantly impactful conditions associated with menopause is the Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM). If you find yourself experiencing uncomfortable or painful symptoms in the vaginal and urinary tracts, it is important to know that you are not alone. GSM affects an estimated 50–70% of women during and after menopause, and it can profoundly affect your life quality.

 

What is Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause?

GSM refers to a collection of symptoms associated with a decrease in estrogen levels, impacting the genital, sexual, and urinary systems. Although it is most prevalent among postmenopausal women, symptoms can occasionally begin during the perimenopausal phase.




Causes of Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause

The primary trigger for GSM is the reduction in estrogen levels that occurs naturally during menopause. Estrogen is integral to maintaining the structure and function of the vaginal tissues, pelvic floor muscles and urinary tracts, and its decline results in the symptoms that women may experience.

 

Comprehensive Symptoms of GSM

The symptoms of GSM are varied and can affect multiple aspects of your life, from personal comfort to intimate relationships:

 

Genital Symptoms

  • Dryness: Often the most noticeable symptom, vaginal dryness can lead to significant discomfort due to a lack of moisture, making daily activities uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

  • Reduced Elasticity: Loss of elasticity in the vaginal walls can make physical activity and sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful.

  • Altered Vaginal pH: The natural acidity of the vagina changes, increasing the susceptibility to infections due to a less protective environment.

  • Increased Sensitivity: Thinner genital tissues become more susceptible to irritation, resulting in itching, burning, and discomfort from minor physical contact or friction.

 

Urinary Tract Symptoms

  • Dysuria: This can include pain, burning, or stinging sensations during urination, often making the act of urinating distressing.

  • Urgency and Frequency: An intense and often uncontrollable need to urinate, even when the bladder may not be full.

  • Nocturia: The need to urinate multiple times during the night, disrupting sleep and affecting daily energy levels.

  • Urinary Incontinence: Uncontrolled leakage of urine can occur during activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise, leading to potential embarrassment and social withdrawal.

  • Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections: A decreased estrogen level can make the urinary tract more vulnerable to infections, resulting in frequent and recurring infections.

 

Sexual Health Symptoms

  • Reduced Lubrication: Decreased moisture can make sexual activity uncomfortable or painful, affecting sexual health and intimate relationships.

  • Painful Intercourse: Known medically as Dyspareunia, this often results from dryness and reduced elasticity.

  • Decreased Sexual Desire: Hormonal changes can lead to a diminished libido, affecting sexual relationships and personal well-being.

  • Difficulty Achieving Orgasm: Changes in sensitivity and arousal can hinder sexual satisfaction.

  • Bleeding After Intercourse: Increased fragility in vaginal tissues can lead to bleeding after sexual activity, which can be distressing and worrying.

 

Proactive Management and Treatment

While GSM can be daunting, numerous strategies can manage and mitigate its symptoms effectively:

 

  • Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: Appropriate training of pelvic floor muscles improves the above symptoms by improving circulation, elasticity, and health of the tissues in this region, and by preventing unwanted symptoms such as urinary leakage. Our specialists at Mississauga Pelvic Health can guide you through tailored pelvic exercises.

  • Moisturizers and Lubricants: These are essential for managing vaginal dryness, reducing discomfort during daily activities and sexual intercourse.

  • Comprehensive Education: Understanding the changes happening in your body and how to manage them can empower you to live comfortably during menopause.

  • Hormonal Treatments: Your family doctor, gynecologist or other medical specialist may recommend topical estrogens or other hormonal therapies prescribed by healthcare providers can help replenish hormonal levels locally. 

 

Connect with Us

At Mississauga Pelvic Health, we are committed to providing personalized care and effective treatment options tailored to your needs. We understand the challenges of GSM and are here to help. Book your consultation today and take the first step toward regaining your comfort and quality of life during and after menopause.

 

 

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