Did you know doing Kegel exercises after menopause offers many benefits? Many women’s health care professionals recommend women do these pelvic floor exercises daily to help prevent many common issues during menopause. Talk to our provider about whether Kegel exercises are right for you and how to include them in your lifestyle.
Talk to our women’s health care professionals about Kegel exercises. They may help prevent uncomfortable symptoms and conditions during menopause.
What Are Kegel Exercises? Why Might a Women’s Health Care Provider Recommend Them?
Never heard of Kegel exercises before? These are essentially exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor helps support the organs in your pelvis, such as the uterus, bladder, rectum, and vagina.
With age, these muscles can start to become weaker. What’s more, lower estrogen levels during menopause can also contribute to a weak pelvic floor. This puts you at risk for many different issues, such as pain during sex, difficulty controlling your bladder or bowels, or even uterine prolapse.
Some other things that might contribute to weak pelvic muscles include:
Fortunately, Kegel exercises can help make your pelvic floor stronger and are fairly easy to incorporate into your every day routine.
Kegel exercises were developed in the 1950s by a gynecologist named Arnold Kegel. He studied the use of pelvic floor exercises for women with urinary incontinence. Today, many women’s health care professionals recommend Kegel exercises for women of all ages because of their many benefits. This is especially true for women during and after menopause who are more likely to experience pelvic floor weakening and related conditions.
Benefits of Regular Kegel Exercises after Menopause
So, why might you start doing Kegel exercises after menopause? Since your pelvic floor supports a lot of important organs, it’s important to keep these muscles strong. This can also help with the function of your pelvic organs.
Your Women’s Health Care Provider May Recommend Kegels to Help with Urinary Incontinence
Millions of women experience urinary incontinence (UI), which can take the form of anything from small leaks when you sneeze or even having accidents because you’re unable to reach the restroom in time. Your risk for this condition increases with age and after menopause due to lower estrogen levels.
Many women with urinary incontinence deal with a reduced quality of life. A lot of those with UI change a lot about their lives due to the condition, like avoiding going places due to fear of leakage. Many also feel embarrassed and isolated socially because of the condition.
If you have UI, it’s important to talk to our women’s health care provider about causes and treatments. One common recommendation for urinary incontinence is doing Kegel exercises. Stronger pelvic muscles may help you hold your urine in more effectively until you can make it to the bathroom.
Reducing Your Risk for and Treating Uterine Prolapse
Uterine prolapse is a somewhat common condition, and your risk for it goes up after menopause. This is where your uterus starts to sag lower than normal, sometimes entering the vagina (a partial prolapse) or even protruding outside of the vagina (complete prolapse).
Some symptoms of uterine prolapse include:
Heaviness or pressure in the pelvis
Frequent bladder infections
Unusual or excessive discharge
Urinary leaks, frequency, and urgency
These symptoms may also get worse when you’re standing or walking, as gravity can pull on the prolapsed uterus.
If you have uterine prolapse, Kegel exercises may be the recommended treatment for mild cases. In other cases, you may need surgery to remove the uterus or put it back in place.
However, Kegel exercises may also help reduce your risk for experiencing uterine prolapse. Generally, the reason the uterus slips down from its normal position is due to a weakened pelvic floor. Therefore, keeping these muscles strong may help provide the support needed to prevent uterine prolapse.
Improving Intimacy with Kegels
Another issue Kegel exercises can help with is intimacy after menopause. As your estrogen levels start to fall, you might notice vaginal dryness or pain, especially during sex. Kegel exercises help in a few different ways.
First, a common reason you might experience pain during sex is due to tight vaginal muscles. Kegel exercises can help you relax these muscles so they’re not as tight and painful during sex.
Also, pelvic floor exercises can help increase circulation to the pelvic floor and vagina. Better blood flow to the area can help improve arousal and lubrication. In some cases, doing Kegel exercises regularly may even help improve orgasms.
All this can come together to help improve intimacy after menopause. So, Kegels may even help your sex life!
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Did you know about one-third of women who do Kegel exercises are actually doing them wrong? That means they may not get any of the benefits of doing Kegel exercises. Your women’s health clinic can help you determine whether you’re doing Kegel exercises right and offer some tips to help you with Kegels during your next checkup or appointment. However, here are some general tips that may help you learn how to do Kegel exercises.
Find the Right Muscles
Remember how we mentioned about a third of women aren’t doing their Kegels right? In many cases, this is because they’re actually flexing other muscles, like the buttocks, abdomen, or legs. Finding the right muscles for Kegel exercises can be a little difficult, but we do have a few tips.
First, it might help if you lie down while you try to find the right muscles and get used to doing pelvic floor exercises. While you can do them in practically any position, like sitting at a red light, it’s much easier to contract the muscles when you’re lying down.
A lot of guides say that the easiest way to find the right muscles is to stop the stream of urine when you’re going to the bathroom. While this can help you find the right muscles, doing this can make it difficult to fully empty the bladder, which can cause other issues like urinary tract infections. Instead, we recommend pretending you’re trying to avoid passing gas, or to tighten your vagina around a tampon. This can help you find the right muscle group.
If you’re still having trouble finding the right muscles, lie down and insert a clean finger into your vagina and try to do a Kegel. You should feel the muscles tighten around your finger.
Also, try placing a hand on your abdomen when doing your Kegel exercises. This can help you feel any unintended muscle contractions in your abdomen. If you’re contracting your abdominal muscles, there’s a good chance you’re doing your Kegel exercises wrong.
How Often to Do Kegels?
Once you have the hang of which muscles to contract, you can start doing them regularly to help reap the benefits of a strong pelvic floor.
If you’re just starting out, then you may need to work your way up to longer contractions and multiple reps. Generally, one rep is contracting the pelvic floor for three to five seconds and relaxing for three to five seconds. For most women, aim to do about ten reps two or three times a day. Once that becomes easier, you can even try mixing them up by holding for longer, like ten seconds, or even shorter, like two or three second bursts.
Just keep in mind that doing Kegel exercises too much can make your pelvic floor muscles too tight. This can cause issues like:
Incomplete bowel movements
Lower back pain
If you notice these signs of a tight pelvic floor, then try giving your muscles a break from Kegels for a little while. If your symptoms don’t improve, visit our women’s health care team for help finding underlying causes, like overworking the pelvic floor muscles or even other health conditions.
Talk to Your Women’s Health Care Providers About Staying Healthy
At HerKare, we’re a women’s health clinic dedicated to your wellness. Our team is here to help you feel your best at every stage of life. Whether you’re looking for advice on maintaining a healthier lifestyle or need to talk about symptoms you’ve noticed, we take time to listen, understand, and work with you to find personalized health solutions for you. Be proactive about your health. Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations today.
Have you noticed something off about your period? Wondering if COVID-19 may be to blame? It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for changes in your menstrual cycle and talk to your women’s health clinic about anything out of the ordinary. Many women are noticing that their menstrual cycle has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some explanations for this, but experts are still researching the effects.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting your menstrual cycle in a few ways, but our women’s health clinic is here to help you find answers for period changes.
While changes to your menstrual cycle may be nothing to panic about, it can still help to talk to our women’s health care provider about changes. In some cases, this can signal bigger health issues that may need some extra attention.
Talk to Your Women’s Health Clinic if You’ve Noticed Changes with Your Period
Slight changes in your menstrual cycle can happen for many different reasons. These include things like hormone changes, weight changes, and reproductive conditions like PCOS. Pregnancy may also seem like period changes, as many women experience spotting in their first trimester that could be mistaken for a light period. Perimenopause can also cause changes to your period, like irregular cycles or skipped periods.
However, because period changes can also signal something more serious going on with your health, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry and talk to our doctor about differences you’ve noticed.
Some signs you should make an appointment at your women’s health clinic to talk about your period include:
Frequently having periods fewer than 24 days apart
Consistently bleeding for longer than 7 days
Regularly going two or more months between periods
Frequent spotting between periods
Heavy bleeding (needing to change your pad or tampon every hour or more)
Clots larger than the size of a quarter
Period Changes since the Pandemic Started? Visit your Women’s Health Clinic to Rule Out More Serious Conditions
Many women are reporting period changes since the COVID-19 outbreak. A lot of these differences vary between women, but a lot of people are connecting the dots between the changes they noticed and the timeframe of the pandemic.
Women around the country are asking women’s health care professionals whether COVID-19 has anything to do with their period changes. Researchers are still studying the virus and its effects after infection, but there’s a chance that it could.
Some of the symptoms women have reported include:
Longer or shorter cycles
Worse PMS symptoms
This is concerning because many of these symptoms are also on the list of period signs that you want to have checked out at your women’s health clinic. Once again, it’s generally better to be safe than sorry and give us a call to see if our provider recommends an exam or testing for other health issues.
How can COVID-19 Affect My Period?
While there’s still much we don’t know about COVID-19, there are a lot of theories as to why your period might change. Even if you haven’t been infected with the coronavirus, there’s still a chance that your menstrual cycle may be affected.
Many experts believe that these changes can be due to stress, lifestyle changes during quarantine, or COVID-19 infection. As research continues, there are a few explanations why many doctors believe the pandemic may be affecting some people’s cycle.
Pandemic Stress can Wreak Havoc on Your Cycle
Most people would agree that the pandemic has been stressful. A lot of us are worrying about our health and our loved ones’ health. Some have gone through the pains of working from home. Also, we are all dealing with uncertainty of when things will return to normal.
Needless to say, many of us are dealing with way more stress on our plates than normal.
Even before COVID-19, stress has been a common cause in period changes. The problem with feeling stressed is that it initiates our fight or flight response. When we’re stressed, we release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can delay or stop ovulation and reduce our progesterone levels. This can lead to menstrual changes.
Also, stress can affect your hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. This is basically how your brain communicates with your ovaries using hormones as the messenger. Things like mental stress, physical stress, and even sleep disruptions can all bog down your HPO axis, which affects how much estrogen and progesterone your ovaries produce. This, in turn, can meddle with your cycle.
Everyone’s body may react a little differently to the stress of the pandemic and quarantine. Some women may notice shorter, lighter periods and others may notice longer, heavier periods, and others may notice different symptoms or nothing at all. It’s generally a good idea to get a checkup for your symptoms from your women’s health clinic, but if you’ve skipped a period because of stress, it’s generally not a major health concern. However, if you’re sexually active, even if you’re on birth control, a skipped period may warrant a pregnancy test.
Lifestyle Changes Make a Big Difference
Also, many people have had to change a lot of things about their daily life because of COVID-19. These lifestyle changes may also affect your menstrual cycle. For example, your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits may have changed. Weight changes can lead to hormone imbalances which can affect your period. Lack of sleep can also induce a stress response from your body that may affect your periods as well.
Another issue many of the providers at our women’s health clinic have noticed during the pandemic is increased alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Smoking and chronic heavy drinking can also take a toll on your menstrual cycle, as well as the rest of your body.
The Virus Itself May Change Your Period
Also, the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the one responsible for COVID-19) may also affect your period if you’ve been infected. Viral infections in general can put your body under stress and take up a lot of your body’s resources. This means that ovulation and menstruation may get put on the back burner as your immune system fights the virus. Many doctors note that period changes during COVID-19 are similar to those of many other illnesses, like the flu or the common cold. Fortunately, many women notice their periods go back to normal as they start to recover and their symptoms improve.
However, there is also a potential that the virus may also attack the ovaries similar to how it attacks other organs. This could also affect your menstrual cycle. While this potential has been proposed by some, it hasn’t been studied and is only speculation until we have further research.
Visit Our Women’s Health Clinic & Let’s Talk About Your Cycle
Our providers at HerKare are here to help you address your health. As a women’s health clinic, we’re dedicated to helping you find underlying causes of your symptoms and providing personalized care for your needs. If you’ve noticed changes in your menstrual cycle, or any other symptoms, make an appointment today to talk to our doctors. We help with a wide range of health conditions, from hormone imbalances to diabetes and sleep apnea. Our team is here to help you feel like yourself again.
Most of us know that getting a yearly checkup is important, but do you know which preventative women’s healthcare services you need each year? Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion around what your annual appointment should include. When you request a women’s annual exam, some physicians only conduct a gynecological exam and a breast exam. However, this may not address your health as a whole.
Women’s healthcare means looking at your health as a whole. Make sure your annual exams address every aspect of your wellbeing.
Instead, make sure you receive a comprehensive women’s wellness exam. These look at many different systems in your body. These appointments can help with preventative care and early detection of serious conditions. This is even more important as we age and our risk for serious health conditions goes up.
Preventative Women’s Healthcare Visits: Are you Getting the Services You Need Each Year?
Generally speaking, each year you should schedule an appointment to talk about your physical, sexual, reproductive, and mental health. Addressing each of these elements of your wellbeing can help you stay happy and healthy. However, in some clinics this means making multiple appointments and seeing different doctors. Many women each year receive medical exams that only address their sexual and reproductive health.
This often comes down to a misunderstanding of which women’s healthcare services are included in the type of appointment. For example, do you know the difference between a well woman exam and a women’s wellness exam? They may sound like the same thing, but many doctors provide different services for each.
Instead of dividing screenings up between different appointments and doctors, our providers offer total women’s healthcare solutions. This means we look at your health as a whole and can help you address many different aspects of your wellbeing to help you feel your best. We can combine all the services you need for a comprehensive checkup into one appointment to help make things easy for you.
What is a Well Woman Exam?
As we’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of confusion around what different terms mean for women’s healthcare. However, most people call their annual gynecological exam a well woman exam. These appointments are designed to mainly address your sexual and reproductive health. During a well woman exam, you might receive a pelvic exam, a Pap test, and a breast exam. You might also talk about family planning or your risk for sexually transmitted infections.
A pelvic exam assesses whether your uterus, cervix, ovaries, and bladder are healthy. This includes a visual and a manual checkup to look for anything that might indicate that something might be wrong. Many physicians recommend getting a pelvic exam once per year, but you may need more or less frequent exams depending on your specific circumstances and risk factors.
Pap tests are a screening tool for cervical cancer and are often done at the same time as the pelvic exam. This test involves swabbing the cervix and then looking the cervical cells for abnormalities. In the past, women were recommended to get a Pap test every year between ages 21 and 65. However, these guidelines have changed, which may lead to some confusion over when you need a Pap test. Current recommendations are to receive a Pap test every three years so long as your past tests have been negative. Depending on your risk factors, our provider may recommend more frequent tests.
Breast exams are another part of a well woman exam and are an important part of preventative women’s healthcare. These exams can help with early detection of many things, including breast cancer. From ages 20 to 40, the recommendation for women at an average risk for breast cancer is to receive a breast exam from their physician every one to three years. After 40, the recommendation is to receive a mammogram every year.
A mammogram is an x-ray for your breasts. Physicians use these x-ray pictures to look for changes to your breast tissue or other signs that could be cancer. Before 40, your breasts tend to be denser, which can make it difficult to detect the signs of cancer on a mammogram. That is why the recommendation switches from routine breast exams to mammograms as we get older.
What is a Women’s Wellness Exam?
A well woman exam is an important part of taking care of your health, but it’s not the whole story. A women’s wellness exam helps address your health as a whole and screen for conditions that aren’t necessarily part of your reproductive system.
A women’s wellness exam may include a well woman exam, but also looks at your overall health. At many other clinics, these are the appointments where you talk about your lifestyle and discuss your risks for conditions like high blood pressure.
Our women’s healthcare providers provide comprehensive women’s wellness exams to take a broader look at your health. Yearly checkups with our team include exams and screenings for your physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. We may conduct a physical exam, a gynecological exam, a blood test. We’ll also discuss options for staying healthy and any concerns you have about your health.
At your annual women’s wellness exam, our team screens for many different health conditions that may affect you, some of which may not cause any symptoms. For example, depending on your age and risk factors, we might screen for:
High blood pressure
Sexually transmitted infections
Our team personalizes these screenings based on health recommendations and your individual risk factors. Also, we’ll talk to you about your lifestyle and help you determine if there are any changes you can make to help reduce your risk for certain preventable health conditions.
Women’s Healthcare Services and Screenings Should Change as You Age
Another important thing to know is that your annual exams and screenings will change as you age. As we get older, our health risks can change. Therefore, your yearly women’s healthcare exams should change, too.
We’ve already mentioned that you may need to switch to mammograms after a certain age, but that’s not the only change. Your exams may look different at each stage of your life. For example, your risk for osteoporosis goes up after menopause. Therefore, we may recommend including a bone density scan as part of your yearly checkup appointment once you reach menopause. Our women’s healthcare team personalizes your exam to you, which means it should change as your lifestyle and health risks do.
Find the Right Women’s Healthcare Physicians for You
In most cases, women should receive both a well woman exam and a women’s wellness exam every year. This can help you with early detection for preventable diseases and conditions. Only receiving a gynecological exam each year will likely not help detect things like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Our women’s healthcare providers provide comprehensive annual women’s wellness exams to help you stay healthy. We provide both well woman and wellness services to help address your whole health.
At HerKare, our goal is to help you feel your best. Our team provides comprehensive, compassionate care for women at every stage of life. We are a clinic owned and operated by women for women. We listen and we understand your needs. Book an appointment with our team today. We are here for you.
I will literally never forget the crash of hormones that follows the birth of a child – the Baby Blues, they say. It was day 4. My child was exactly 4 days old, and I could feel the hormones beginning to fall like a wave about to crest over me and smash me down onto the sand underneath. Only…there was nothing I could do to stop them. I couldn’t move out of the way or side step the hormones. I couldn’t take a special pill or eat a special diet to keep it from happening. That crash was coming, ready or not. And ready I was definitely not.
A hormonal imbalance and crash after the birth of a child is completely normal. Your hormones have been soaring for a solid 9 months, and even though there were some ups and downs, they mostly stayed fairly high. After the baby arrives, your body takes a few days, and then a signal is sent that tells your body to shut it down. No baby means no more high levels of hormones. The only problem is that your body doesn’t do this gradually. The hormones fall drastically, giving many women the sensation known as the baby blues.
The baby blues is the slight depression that follows the birth of a child. It’s not full on, hard core depression, but rather a negative or down feeling. Most women suffer through for a week or 2, and then the hormones begin to level out. The baby blues start to subside, and women begin to feel normal again. The important thing to remember with the baby blues is that it is normal, and for most women, it passes fairly quickly.
But, what happens when it doesn’t pass? What happens when the baby blues turn into the long term blues? When this happens, you can almost be certain that hormonal imbalances are at play. When the hormones are not in balance, it can cause a wide array of symptoms, one of which is a feeling of the blues or even full on depression. If your baby blues seem to be turning into long term depression, then your hormones are likely still imbalanced. They are not returning to normal levels as quickly as they should, and it is causing your body and mind to experience the blues.
If you find this happening to you, get help right away. The right treatment can turn hormonal depression around and stop it in its tracks. At HerKare, a treatment professional may be able to test your hormones, determine whether an imbalance is present, and get you an appropriate treatment plan. When your baby blues turn into depression, or you suspect a hormonal imbalance for any other reason, get to HerKare to let a physician help you today.
First time moms are often guilty of thinking that their post baby weight is going to fall off instantly. They take their pre baby skinny jeans to the hospital fully expecting to wear them home. They quickly find out that it doesn’t exactly work like that. While post baby weight doesn’t fall off the instant baby is born, it can come off in a timely manner with some consistent effort and regular medical exams.
Through proper nutrition and exercise, it is possible to drop those stubborn pounds. But, what happens when those stubborn pounds are a bit too stubborn? If your post baby weight is being more difficult than you think it should be, check out these 3 reasons that your post baby weight may stick around longer.
Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep can cause a lot more problems than just being tired. It can also throw your body into a bit of a panic. It begins to produce the wrong chemicals causing hormone imbalance. in order to try and compensate for the lack of sleep. Its natural rhythm is thrown off, and because of that, your body may fight back in a number of ways. One such way is by hanging onto a few extra pounds. If you’re doing everything right, but still can’t drop the pounds, try asking for some help in getting a little sleep. Call on grandma or a friend, and get some rest. Before you know it, you will be rested up and you may find those stubborn pounds fall off.
You Are Nursing
I know that the conventional wisdom about nursing is that it helps you lose weight, but for a few women, it means hanging onto a few pounds. Nursing burns massive calories, but some women’s bodies refuse to burn about 10 pounds or so. It keeps that extra reserve to make sure that you don’t get too skinny and are unable to nourish your baby. If you are nursing and can’t lose weight, see what happens when you wean. If you still can’t lose, it might be time to look at other options.
A lot of extra weight after baby happens because of a hormonal imbalance. It takes a while to get the hormones back on track after baby. For some women, it takes a lot longer than others. If your hormones are still out of whack after baby, it may manifest itself through an inability to lose weight. If you are doing everything right, and those pounds refuse to drop, a hormonal imbalance might be to blame.
If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, get to HerKare to let a treatment professional get you back on track. Losing that post baby weight is important to your health and your long term self esteem. Get your hormones checked and your weight back under control with the help of a physician at HerKare.
In case you didn’t know, there are actually a lot of hormones at work in a woman’s body. Like…a lot. Actually, there are a lot of hormones at work in everyone’s body. Even though hormones are responsible for a huge number of functions in the body, only a few hormones are well known enough to get any recognition. Hormone replacement therapy is a popular topic and you need to understand why.
For men, it’s the T word: Testosterone. For women, it’s two hormones that get a lot of recognition: progesterone and estrogen. You’ve probably heard of both of these. But, do you even know what they do? Do you know their jobs and functions? Do you know what happens when they get out of balance?
As women, it is important to be informed about our own bodies. Take a look at the 2 most famous hormones and their roles in the lives of women.
This hormone has quite a few roles in the body. For starters, progesterone helps a woman nourish a pregnancy. The lining of the uterus needs preparation in order to hold, keep, and nourish a pregnancy. This is where progesterone steps in. It preps the lining, getting it ready to grab onto a fertilized egg should it be present. Without proper amounts of progesterone, the lining won’t be ready and the pregnancy won’t be viable. If pregnancy does occur, it is progesterone that helps your body hold onto it, keeping the fetus firmly attached. Progesterone is also responsible for preparing the milk glands during pregnancy, so that they produce adequate nourishment for your child. When it comes to progesterone, preparation seems to be one of its main jobs and there are progesterone replacement therapy options available post-hormone testing.
When it comes to estrogen, think of growth and development. When puberty in women occurs, it is usually the result of a rise in estrogen. It causes the reproductive organs to grow, develop, and mature. It is also responsible for thickening the uterus lining during the first half of the menstrual cycle. Without estrogen, period would not occur or would be irregular at best. Estrogen also causes an egg to mature each month, and as estrogen drops, the egg is released. If your body is growing or developing, estrogen is probably a significant hormone behind it.
When Levels are Off
Most women don’t really think about the specific roles of their hormones. As long as they are functioning normally, there really isn’t a whole lot of need to know the gory details. It’s only when the levels become unbalanced that women may feel the need to learn more. So, what does happen when the body experiences hormone imbalance? It could cause a number of symptoms, and unfortunately, they can be confusing. A woman may lose her hair, or she may start to grow hair in weird places. You may have trouble either losing or gaining weight. You may have mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, extreme fatigue, insomnia, and the list goes on and on.
What To Do
If you have any of the above symptoms or suspect and imbalance for any reason, there is help available. A physician at HerKare may be able to test your hormones and determine if an imbalance is present. If it is, they may be able to help find a treatment plan that works for your. For your own health and wellbeing, get to know your hormones and their roles in our body. Then, if a problem comes about, you can get the help and attention you need to get back on track and healthy again.