As women pass through perimenopause and menopause and enter their postmenopausal years, they typically experience various aches and pains. Among them may be the presence of pelvic and/or rectal pain.
What are pelvic pain and rectal pain?
Pelvic pain is characterized by discomfort or pain in the base of the abdomen and pelvic region. The sensation may range from a dull ache to a sharp jabbing pain. Pelvic pain may be caused by a wide range of conditions ranging from constipation to menstruation, a full bladder, pregnancy, trauma to the abdominal or pelvic region, of sexual activity.
How are pelvic and rectal pain associated with menopause?
As women’s estrogen levels decline significantly with the arrival of menopause, the pelvic floor muscles tend to get dryer and thinner. These changes are often accompanied by the development of sensitive areas or trigger points inside the pelvic floor, which then can manifest as pelvic pain.
Pelvic and rectal pain is also associated with pelvic organ prolapse. This condition occurs when the pubococcygeus muscles (PC), which are located at the base of the abdominal cavity, become weak. This can result in a shift in the position of the uterus, rectum, bladder, intestines, and/or vagina. If any of these organs shift lower in the abdominal cavity, it results in pressure or heaviness in the area and may cause problems with urinating or having a bowel movement.
According to the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support, about half of women age 50 and older experience pelvic organ prolapse. However, studies show a range between 3 percent and 68 percent.
How can you manage pelvic and rectal pain naturally?
One of the most interesting and effective ways to manage pelvic and rectal pain associated with menopause is with Arvigo massage. This is a form of massage that can help heal the body and restore balance and wholeness. According to its practitioners, the technique allows the chu’lel (a Maya word that means life force energy) to flow freely through the body.
Arvigo massage reportedly can strengthen pelvic health by stimulating the flow of energy, blood, and lymph. It also can align the pelvic and abdominal organs if they have shifted, which in turn can relieve pelvic and rectal pain and pressure. According to naturopath and Arvigo practitioner Christine Matheson, this massage method can minimize perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms by “ensur hormones reach where they need to go leading to a feeling of vitality while the body undergoes changes.”
Some other natural approaches to relieving pelvic and/or rectal pain are offered here.
- Sitting in a warm bath, using a heating pad or hot water bottle on the affected area, or enjoying a hot whirlpool can be helpful.
- It’s important to consume enough fiber to keep your bowels regular and healthy so you don’t need to strain when defecating. Strive for 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and seeds.
- Nutrients. Magnesium is known for an ability to ease muscles. You may also want to try vitamins D and E.
- Herbal remedies. Some herbs can help relieve inflammation, which in turn may provide relief from pelvic or rectal pain. Some options include dong quai, evening primrose oil, licorice, and willow.
- Stress relief. Practices such as meditation, progressive relaxation, visualization, deep breathing, and yoga may relax muscles and offer overall relief from tension and pain.
- Exercise. Brisk walking or other moderate exercise for 30 to 5 minutes most days of the week may be one of the best ways to shake off the discomfort. Exercise boosts blood flow, relieves tension, and releases endorphins, which help with pain relief.
when to see your doctor
Although pelvic or rectal pressure and pain usually are not serious, you should consult your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Sudden or severe pelvic or rectal pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- The pain or pressure disrupts your lifestyle
- Pressure or pain gets worse over time
Pelvic and/or rectal pain or pressure is common among women in the menopausal years. Natural techniques can be effective in providing relief.