Men in control… of bladder, bowel and erectile function
According to the 2008 Australian Bureau of Statistics, some of the most common causes of premature death among men are heart attack, lung, colon, rectum and prostate cancers, stroke, respiratory disease and diabetes.
Perhaps an added incentive for men taking better care of themselves might be knowing that, by adopting certain lifestyle changes (such as those recommended by the Continence Foundation), they could also improve their erectile function.
Continence nurse advisor Stephen Marburg said men were often unaware of the importance of their pelvic floor, a trampoline-shaped group of muscles and ligaments that extend from the tail bone to the pubic bone, and between both sitting bones.
“The pelvic floor is responsible for holding up the pelvic organs and closing off the urinary and anal sphincters. The pelvic floor muscles also play a role in gaining and maintaining erections,” Marburg said.
“In the past, the focus has been on women doing their pelvic floor exercises, but we now know that they have benefits for men in conditions associated with prostate disease, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.”
A 2014 Rome study of 40 men aged 19- 46 years who experienced premature ejaculation, found that their average ejaculation time of 32 seconds increased to nearly two-and-a-half minutes after 12 weeks of pelvic floor muscle training.
A toned pelvic floor has also been shown to improve erectile function, Marburg said, pointing to a 2005 British study of 55 men aged 20 years and over who experienced erectile dysfunction. The men who improved their lifestyle and did pelvic floor muscle exercises for three months significantly improved their erectile function compared with the group of men who only improved their lifestyles.
“And a previous study found the exercises as effective as Viagra for impotence, without the side-effects,” Marburg said.
Marburg said that around one third of calls to the Helpline were from men, who were often embarrassed about their erectile or continence problems.
“It’s important for men to know they are not alone, and that there is a lot of help out there. While incontinence is not normal at any age, in most cases it can be improved, if not cured,” he said.
Marburg urged men with any bladder or bowel concerns to visit their GP or men’s health physiotherapist.
“Or they can speak to one of the continence nurse advisors on the free and confidential National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.”