Women’s Health and Pilates
Menstrual health of women is an extremely vast topic in the medical field. Right from puberty and even post-menopause, women’s bodies undergo multiple hormonal changes. At various stages, there are different menstrual disorders which might develop owing to various genetic and environmental factors.
Menstrual disorders in women range from Dysmenorrhea and Menorrhagia to PCOS and Endometriosis, which are mostly caused by hormonal imbalance. As a result of which, they can develop insulin resistance and abnormal cholesterol levels. The premenstrual symptoms of fatigue, bloating and mood swings are aggravated in these conditions.
One of the more painful of the menstrual disorders is Endometriosis in which the tissue which is supposed to grow inside the uterus, grows on other pelvic organs like the ovaries or fallopian tube. These develop into cysts which contract like the uterine lining during periods but do not flow out as they are trapped outside the uterus, causing chronic pain. The pain during menstrual bleeding for women with endometriosis is usually 4 or more on a scale of 0 to 5.
Laila Ali, an instructor at Moushu’s Pilates has endometriosis for more than 12 years. She had a surgery a few years back to laparoscopically remove the cyst that had formed, but the doctors had said it could recur, which it did, as this condition can’t be cured, only managed. She joined Moushu’s Pilates as a client, to begin with, 2 years back and as she became regular with her Pilates workouts, the results started showing in her monthly cycle. As Pilates is a milder form of exercise, the pain and nausea she experienced during her periods were less. She recently got an ultrasound scan and the size of her cyst has reduced by 1 centimetre, which is a major achievement.
In the past decade, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles, many teenagers and young women in their twenties are developing PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts. It is characterised by excessive hair growth, acne and abnormal menstrual cycle, which for every woman can mean a different thing. Medical professionals, the world over, prescribe birth control pills to regularise the periods, however, that is not the actual cure for it. All doctors suggest lifestyle changes to manage the condition and keep the symptoms in check. And one of the biggest lifestyle changes is to include an exercise regime in one’s routine.
On a personal note, I have had PCOS since I was 15 years old. For me, the most disturbing effect of that has been difficulty in losing fat and menorrhagia or extremely frequent and heavy period flow. Over the years, I tried every home remedy and even birth control pills but they worked only as temporary relief. The only thing that has had a lasting result has been a regular workout. Doing Pilates 5 days a week at Moushu’s Pilates, helped me combat the bloaty feeling and also lose weight beyond the number it had plateaued at. Earlier I had multiple tiny cysts but they have actually reduced to one single cyst on one ovary.
Pilates works the deep core and pelvic muscles which become stronger. It is essentially a full-body workout which works on muscle toning and strengthening. If you have any menstrual disorder or just abnormal cycles and premenstrual symptoms which disturb you, doing Pilates can really help ease the symptoms. The mind-body centring technique that we focus on at Moushu’s Pilates combines the effect of exercise and adds the element of concentration and breathing techniques, which helps in relaxing during the various mood disturbances.
Exercising, in general, has proved to be the best therapeutic and supportive management in the various conditions related to women’s uterine health. Working out regularly creates a hormonal balance, hence reducing the risk of infertility, combating obesity, increasing immunity, and improving body composition. It also releases endorphins which not only helps in enhancing the sense of well-being but also increases threshold tolerance of pain.
With this, we complete the series on Women’s Health. Read our previous blogs here.
Let the new decade be about your health and wellbeing! Find the workout which suits you at Moushu’s Pilates.
A writer and Pilates instructor by profession, and a lawyer by education, Tarannum is passionate about art, travel, fitness and food. She has been practicing Pilates for the past five years at Moushu’s Pilates Studio and has experienced the transforming effects of it on her body, firsthand.