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Recently, I wrote a piece for The Phoenix magazine about pelvic health for men.
When I mention pelvic health to my male friends the reaction is usually the same:
“Isn’t that a women’s issue? Ladies who leak after childbirth? Lycra-wearing women of a certain age clenching their buttocks in the gym?”
Men often don’t realise that they have pelvic floors but they definitely do! And as in females, it plays an important role in continence or staying dry. Leakage of urine is far less common in men but it does come as one of the side effects of a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland). In addition, pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken with age and we can find ourselves leaking.
And men with erectile dysfunction issues are often surprised to hear from their doctor that pelvic floor exercises can play a role in helping them to achieve and sustain a healthy erection. Erectile dysfunction is a common and complex issue which can be the result of surgery, ageing, diabetes, anxiety or just general poor conditioning. Pelvic muscle training can help and not every erection problem needs the famous little blue pill.
A healthy male pelvic floor ticks over in the background keeping you dry and helping you have a happy sex life. However, just like when you need some help with that niggling knee pain, incontinence or erectile dysfunction problems can also benefit from a visit to your physiotherapist.
The good news is that the pelvic floor muscle responds well to targeted muscle training and many patients find that a short course of physiotherapy, where they are taught specific exercises which they can repeat at home, in work or even in the car, can help them immensely. A weak or underactive pelvic floor muscle can soon be strengthened leading to increased performance and confidence.
And a final thing. Pelvic health issues are often associated with a weak pelvic floor muscle but a tight or overactive muscle can also be a problem, causing pain in the pelvis, groin, buttocks or lower back. Physiotherapy can teach the patient to relax and release the pelvic floor muscle as well as rehabilitating associated issues in the hips or pelvis.
And how do men’s pelvic floor muscles become tight or overactive? Interestingly, it is a common problem among long distance cyclists. I guess it isn’t just women of a certain age who can be found wearing lycra and clenching their buttocks.