What is biofeedback? Biofeedback is a technique that teaches an individual to consciously control their body’s involuntary responses including blood pressure, temperature, muscle contractions, heart rate and brain waves. A person receiving biofeedback is hooked up electronically to machines so their physiological process can be monitored and relayed back to the person as a tactical, auditory, or visual signal.
How can biofeedback help women during menopause? During menopause, women suffer from a variety of physical and emotional symptoms which are typically cased by a deficiency of estrogen and progesterone. The following are the symptoms that biofeedback has been known to effectively help menopausal women find relief from:
? Migraines and/or headaches
? Hot flashes
? A low libido related to anxiety
? A loss of appetite related to anxiety
? High blood pressure caused by stress
? Specific types of pain and depression
How is biofeedback performed? Patients are treated individually, so a menopausal woman will first be asked about her health and the symptoms she is experiencing. She will then be treated based on the decision of the practitioner.
Most biofeedback sessions begin with the patient sitting in a chair. A band that has three wired metal sensors attached to it is placed on the head and the patient is given headphones. The headphones produce audio that sounds like static. Each static click means that alpha waves are being emitted by the brain. These waves are a sign of relaxation. The quicker the static clicks, the more a patient is relaxing.
The practitioner will then analyze the patient’s level of relaxation and measure the temperature, heart rate, and muscle tension for a few minutes. The patient will then be asked to perform a mental task that presents a challenge which will lower the temperature in the hands and raise blood pressure. The patient will then be taken back to the original relaxation stage where they will rest for a moment before they are then asked about their emotional issues.
This is how a typical session of biofeedback is conducted, but treatment varies based on the menopausal symptom. For instance, a number of studies have found that biofeedback has been effective at improving bladder control in some women. During menopause, women may suffer from stress incontinence (bladder leakage). This condition is believed to be caused from lack of estrogen. Estrogen helps to keep the lining of the urethra and bladder strong and healthy. Thus, lack of estrogen can weaken the bladder and reduce muscle control, resulting in a leakage of urine when the body receives pressure from coughing, sneezing or laughing.
Biofeedback can relieve stress incontinence by helping a woman strengthen her pelvic floor muscles. To show the woman how she needs to effectively contract her pelvic muscle to make them stronger, one end of a transvaginal sensor is inserted into the vagina and the other end is hooked up to a computer to monitor and measure muscular activity. The computer provides instant information on which muscles require more strengthening.
How long are sessions? Most people begin with ten sessions under the supervision of a trained practitioner. Each session lasts one hour in length. However, the purpose of biofeedback is to teach an individual how to control their vital functions on their own so they can effectively treat themselves to control and prevent symptoms. Of course, knowing how to perform biofeedback takes plenty of know-how and practice. Therefore, it is mandatory that you are taught by a professional.
If you would like to try biofeedback to treat your menopause symptoms, consult your health care provider to learn more.
By: Kathryn Whittaker
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