Pelvic floor training – a men’s issue
We know that exercising your pelvic floor muscles can help bladder and bowel control, but two physios have done some research and found that there can be a happy side effect.
Physios Chris Myers and Moira Smith looked at studies from around the world to find out if pelvic floor muscle training can make a difference for men, sexually.
Chris says the review found positive effects in favour of pelvic floor training for some sexual dysfunction.
“Despite varying success rates, all studies reviewed showed participant improvement,” Chris says.
It’s important to note that men who took part in the chosen studies did not have a history of prostate surgery or nerve conditions.
The impact of sexual dysfunction can be a big deal: causing distress, affecting self-esteem and putting strain on relationships. And it’s surprisingly common in the general male population, with rates of erectile dysfunction estimated at 52 per cent and premature ejaculation at 30 per cent.
In the past, lifestyle changes and medication have been the remedy. Chris says pelvic floor muscle training instead works to help the muscles that may be contributing to the dysfunction.
“In male sexual function, the front muscles of the pelvic floor help by contracting [shortening], allowing blood flow into the penis, but reducing how much blood flows out – this makes them firmer.
“At climax some of these muscles contract rhythmically. These are the same muscles that help to ‘squeeze’ that last bit of urine out.”
“The male pelvic floor plays three roles: sexual function, continence of bladder and bowel and support of the abdominal contents.
“When structures in our body have more than one role to play, they are at greater risk of injury – the pelvic floor is exactly the same.”
So you’d like to try pelvic floor muscle training as an option to address sexual dysfunction. Where to next?
“A consult with your local GP or pelvic health physio would be a great first step in checking to see if this can be of help to you. Pelvic floor muscle training is only one component that can help!” Chris says.
Men, do you know where your pelvic floor muscles are?
It’s important to identify the correct pelvic floor muscles before you start exercising them. Luckily for you, men have an extra method to visualise the pelvic floor. Remember to breathe normally and try to keep everything above the belly button relaxed. You should feel a ‘lift and a squeeze’ inside your pelvis.
Method one: stopping the flow
In the middle of emptying your bladder, try to stop or slow the flow of urine and then start it again. The muscles you’re squeezing by doing this are your pelvic floor muscles.
Only try this to identify the correct muscles. Do not use this method repetitively otherwise your bladder may not empty the way it should.
Method two: visualisation
Stand in front of a mirror with no clothes on and tighten your pelvic floor muscles. If you are tightening the correct muscles, you’ll be able to see the base of the penis draw in and scrotum lift up. Relax your muscles and you should feel like the muscles are ‘letting go’.
Call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for further information and for referrals in your local area.