Dr. Jennifer Kinder
Genitourinary Menopausal Syndrome (GMS) is the trifecta of diagnoses commonly seen in the perimenopause state. Do you have: dryness and/or irritation in the vaginal area? Feel the urge to pee all the time? Pain with sex? These are key signs that you may have GMS.
GMS happens due to decreases in estrogen levels. Estrogen is protective for so many tissues in our body including: bone, heart, brain and connective tissues (collagen, elastin) and overall skin(think vaginal dryness). Changes to our bladder can emerge from GMS, leading to an increased number of trips to the bathroom, increased urinary tract infections and incontinence. What can we do?
While you might feel embarrassed to bring this up with your healthcare provider, please know you are not alone and many women in the perimenopausal transition have these symptoms. The good news is they can be treated... if your healthcare provider knows! Out of thousands of women a study reported that only 60% of women with these symptoms reported them to their provider and only 10% of their providers asked about these symptoms. This means ADVOCATE for: yourself, mom, sister, aunt, friend. Change can happen if we, the patients, continue to ask for care for these symptoms.
What to do:
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider and tell them the symptoms you are having. Pelvic health physical therapy is an excellent conservative treatment to help with these conditions. Using vaginal “lip balm," lube, to moisturize the vaginal tissue can help. In addition your physician may prescribe topical estrogen for the vaginal area. Solo or in combination these treatments can really change a woman’s life; moving from irritated and feeling isolated to comfortable and in control.
Dr. Jennifer Kinder PT, DPTSc is a Board-Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist and Associate Professor in the Departments of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science & Anatomy at UCSF. Email Jennifer at Jennifer.Kinder2@ucsf.edu or follow her on Instagram IG: @jen_kinder_pt