This month the team at Vision are participating in Movember to help raise funds for Men’s health so thought it fitting to write about men’s health. Men’s health is normally focused on mental health and prostate cancer, but what about other taboo issues that men don’t like to talk about like incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Both of these are possible side effects of prostate surgery, but there are other risk factors as well. Incontinence and erectile dysfunction can be improved with pelvic floor exercises. I have had many clients remark that only women have pelvic floor muscles, but both males and females have pelvic floor muscles to ensure that the pelvic organs stay in place (inside the body), as well as help with bowel and bladder control and sexual function. Similar to women the risks of developing pelvic floor dysfunction in men include:
- surgery for bladder or bowel problems;
- prostate surgery
- being overweight;
- heavy lifting;
- coughing that goes on for a long time (such as smoker’s cough, bronchitis or asthma)
By practicing pelvic floor muscle training it can help reduce urgency, ‘after dribble’ and improve issues with erectile dysfunction. To engage pelvic floor, males still need to engage all three layers of their pelvic floor by drawing in and up. This can be done by tightening up around your back passage like you are trying to stop passing wind and then imagine stopping the flow of urine. It is important that no other accessory muscles such as your glutes engage at the same time. Another cue for males is to imagine you are walking into a cold lake and you are trying to lift your testes away from the water.
Many people when practicing their pelvic floor will do it while trying to stop the flow of urine when they go to the toilet. This is ok as a once off to see if you are activating the correct muscles, but you do not want to do this regularly. Doing so could cause ongoing issues with your bladder.
Practicing pelvic floor can also assist with reducing back, hip and groin pain. Pelvic floor is a part of the core muscles including transverse abdominis, multifidus and diaphragm. This lays a strong foundation and can help to prevent injury if you are able to engage these muscles correctly. So regardless if you exercise or not, or if you have or haven’t experienced any issues with incontinence or erectile dysfunction, it is never too late to start practicing pelvic floor activations.