Do our wombs move at midlife?
When everything feels crazy out there, at least we can understand more about what’s going on inside.
I discovered my womb is moving and yours might be too.
My path to discovery started on the floor of my son's bedroom. I got stuck there when a sharp spasm of pain sped through my lower back as I attempted to pick up a pile of school books.
Only by falling to my hands and knees, wiggling into a yoga cat pose and then gently arching and curving my back, was I able to release some of the pain and stand up.
I walked strangely for a few days, spent more time stretching as a yoga cat and soon I was back to normal. Except that two weeks later, the spasm of pain returned to my lower back and this time I decided to seek help.
The second back spasm happened the day before my period. The first back spasm happened around the time of ovulation. I suspected there was a connection to my hormones, especially since I’d only ever suffered from lower back pain while pregnant.
“Of course there’s a connection to your hormones,” my osteopath told me as she gently realigned my back. “What you have is very common among women in their late 40s. Your womb is moving, after all.”
“How’s it moving?” I asked, amused, immediately recalling the ancient Greek understanding of hysteria – derived from hystera, the Greek word for womb. (The ancient Greeks thought hysteria was a disease of the wondering womb, which if not held in place through sex and pregnancy, was suspected of traveling around the body, even up to the brain, causing disorders and disease.)
“It’s shrinking,” my osteopath answered. “And since everything is pretty packed down there, when your womb shrinks, even by a tiny fraction of its size, everything is going to move with it and this can affect your spine.”
I went home and opened my computer.
How common is lower back pain during perimenopause?
That is common!
Well, let’s consider modern life.
Or more specifically, the level of physical activity in my modern life.
As opposed to my ancestors, I don’t have a daily routine of gathering food by walking across fields and up mountains, reaching up to fruit trees and crouching down to gather roots and berries. And I don’t squat around stones crushing grains and tending to a fire.
When I gather food, usually once a week at the supermarket, perhaps I’ll reach up to pick one or two products from the top shelves and I’ll often stretch over a small mountain of tomatoes to dig out the fresh ones at the back of the pile.
When I prepare food, I stand up and walk around my kitchen’s work triangle, and if my family is lucky (or not), I’ll take a moment to squat in front of the cookery book bookshelf seeking out inspiration.
I have to schedule my exercise and my routine varies. Sometimes I’ll manage months of regular yoga practice or building up a sweat on an elliptical machine in our basement, and sometimes I’ll make do with only brisk walks to the bakery or in summer, intensive weeks of discovering beautiful cities in foreign lands.
If my womb is shrinking and moving other parts of my body, I’m not in the best shape to cope smoothly.
Perhaps many of us aren't.
So what can we do?
I took the opportunity to reconnect with my Gyrtotonic teacher, who as luck would have it, was just returning from an extended maternity leave and reopening her classes. Gyrotonic is said to increase blood flow and oxygen to the womb – useful for pregnant and postnatal women and I suspect for perimenopausal woman, too.
I also felt grateful for my little team of alternative practitioners who I have on hand if I need them. I recognize the self-love I offer myself when I feel that something is wrong and I make an appointment to get help.
I didn’t ignore the calling from my back. Ignoring it could have let a little problem become much bigger and could have left me having to find ways to treat pain over a longer period.
During perimenopause, we are more sensitive to every part in our lives which isn’t ideal – the stresses and imbalances of modern life. This can impact our health in a variety of ways and cause a lot of pain. In fact, women from the ages 41-50 are more likely to suffer from pain than ANY other age group.
When we feel pain and discomfort we shouldn’t hesitate to seek help. It doesn’t mean we’re malfunctioning. It might mean that our wombs are moving, ever so slightly, while our bodies are reminding us big time to take greater care and offer ourselves more LOVE.
How can you show yourself some more self-love on a regular basis?