What is GSM?
Genitourinary syndrome of menopause is a relatively new term that describes various signs and symptoms associated with menopause. These include genital symptoms (vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation), sexual symptoms (dryness, pain, discomfort, and impaired function), and urinary symptoms (urgency, dysuria, and recurrent UTIs).
During menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone decreases. The tissue in the pelvic floor muscles, vagina, vulva, bladder, and urethra respond to estrogen in the blood. When there is a significant drop in these estrogen levels, the tissues become thin, less elastic, and more vulnerable to irritation and damage.
Why should you know about GSM?
As all persons with a uterus are going to experience menopause at some point in their lives, it is important to be aware of the various signs and symptoms that accompany this major hormone shift to ensure self-advocacy and receive appropriate care to manage these symptoms.
What are the signs/symptoms of GSM?
- Vaginal dryness
- Dyspareunia (pain with intercourse)
- General vulvar or vaginal irritation, itching, burning
- Bleeding or spotting during or following intercourse
- Decreased arousal, orgasm
- Incontinence (leaking)
- Dysuria (painful or difficult micturition)
- Nocturia (increased nighttime urination)
- Recurrent UTI (urinary tract infection)
What can I do if I have GSM?
Contact a pelvic floor physical therapist. Pelvic floor PT has been shown to decrease pelvic symptoms associated with menopause by prescribing appropriate exercises, providing manual therapy techniques, and educating on bladder retraining techniques. Click here to schedule with our Boulder and Lafayette pelvic floor specialists today.
Also, find a doctor who is familiar with GSM and is willing to spend time with you discussing your symptoms and options for treatment. These options include hormone replacement therapy, which has been recently shown to be a very safe and effective treatment option for menopause and GSM symptoms.