‘Women’s wellness’ is a term often spoken about in the media but what does it entail?
It’s referring to the unique health journey that women go through during their life, from puberty to childbirth (if that is their chosen path) to menopause. These life events can bring on specific health issues that require special consideration.
Although half the population are susceptible to these health issues, they are rarely spoken about and can leave those affected feeling isolated and frightened. We believe the best way to overcome this is to open the conversation and share our own journeys so that we can learn from one another and support each other. Let’s dive into some of these unspoken issues.
Is the accidental leakage of urine. The severity of urinary incontinence varies, it ranges from small leaks from exercise, coughing or sneezing to a complete lack of control of one's bladder. There are many causes of urinary incontinence but women's health issues are the largest contributors. Up to 38% of women in Australia are affected but 70% do not seek treatment for their problem. The fact is that it can have a large impact on the quality of one's life and embarrassment to speak up is largely why it goes untreated.
In most cases, it can be improved or even cured. By speaking to your healthcare professional you can get the help you need.
Pelvic Floor Weakness
The group of muscles and ligaments which support the bowel, uterus and bladder are known as the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor is weakened, it can cause a myriad of problems such as incontinence, prolapse and affect sexual functions. Pelvic floor issues can arise at any stage but most are brought on by pregnancy, childbirth or menopause. 25% of women have pelvic floor disorders and at least half of Australian women who have had more than one child have experienced some degree of organ prolapse. Once again, this largely goes unspoken about with many feeling lied to as the focus post-childbirth is often on how to get their 'post-baby body back into shape’ rather than how to mitigate the risks of prolapse during the postnatal period. No one should suffer in silence, given the prevalence of the issue, it should be actively spoken about in daily discourse.
With help from physiotherapy and postnatal care, one can help prevent pelvic floor issues and overcome them if they do arise.
Vaginal Atrophy (from Menopause)
Menopause is a natural phase of a women's health journey, it happens when one doesn’t have a menstrual period for 12 months, typically around 51 years of age but sometimes occurs for other reasons. Hormonal changes cause menopausal symptoms which most will experience in varying degrees. The most common symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, changes in sex drive, mood changes and vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal atrophy is brought on due to a lack of estrogen which causes burning, itching, or lack of lubrication during sexual activity. These symptoms typically appear four to five years after the onset of menopause. Up to 50% of post-menopausal women have vaginal atrophy. Although the effects can greatly affect one's quality of life, only 25% seek medical help. There are a growing number of treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms and greatly improve patients' wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Diastasis Recti (Postpartum Abdominal Separation)
Diastasis recti is another common condition after pregnancy, it occurs when the rectus abdominal muscles separate. These muscles are the large parallel muscles that run from one's chest to the pelvis, the growing uterus causes them to separate from pressure, usually in the second half of pregnancy. It is more common with women who have had more than one child, from the birth of a large baby or pregnancies with multiple babies (twins, triplets etc).
Diastasis Recti affects 60% of people, many will improve on their own but 32% will still have the condition 12 months postpartum. Some of the many symptoms of diastasis recti include a bulge in the stomach, back pain, constipation and incontinence.
Physiotherapy and exercises can greatly improve the condition but sometimes more help is needed from other medical treatments, contacting your medical provider is the best to ensure the optimum treatment.
Every woman has their own unique health journey, but that does not mean they have to go through it alone. Many share similar experiences and the more we openly talk about our health issues and struggles, the more we can support one another and ensure that no one feels alone or that there is something “wrong” with them. Let’s open the conversation and share this wonderful journey together!