Sorry to break it to you, gentlemen, but pelvic health isn’t just important for women. You have a group of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis that helps support the organs of your urinary, GI, and reproductive systems, too. There are 14 muscles, several joints, ligaments, and nerves making up the pelvic floor. No matter your gender, the pelvic floor works to control the bladder, bowel, and sexual functions. And just like women, men experience issues when the pelvic floor muscles are tight, weak, or spastic.
The pelvic floor is a part of your inner core, which is used during daily tasks, workouts, and hobbies. Your pelvic floor can become affected after surgery, due to other injury/trauma, or due to lifestyle factors or disease processes. When this happens, men can experience symptoms such as urinary or fecal leakage, constipation, abdominal/pelvic/rectal/penile pain, erectile dysfunction, and prostatitis-like symptoms. (Please note, this is not an all-inclusive list.) Additionally, men may benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy before or after prostatectomy and following hernia repairs or other abdominal/pelvic surgeries. Up to 2 million men in the United States alone meet the diagnostic definition of persistent pelvic pain.1 And that’s just one of the symptoms that may stem from pelvic floor muscles that are too tight, weak, or those that have restrictions present in or around the tissue.
Many of the interventions that pelvic floor physical therapists use to strengthen these muscles can be applied to treatment of both men and women. Your provider should begin with an evaluation process to get a clearer picture of what is happening with the muscles, their strength, coordination, endurance, and tension. This may involve an internal (rectal) and external examination to better determine how your pelvic floor is contributing to your experienced symptoms. Please don’t let the thought of internal examination deter you. There may be other options to begin addressing your symptoms until you learn more and are more comfortable. Just be open and honest with your therapist.
So, men, speak up! If you are experiencing leakage, pain, constipation, urinary urgency, changes in sexual function, or are post-surgery for the pelvic or abdominal region, ask your doctor or call with questions. If you and your physician have ruled out other diagnoses or infections, pelvic health physical therapy may be a great option for you. Know that you are not alone in the symptoms you experience. Improve your quality of life with pelvic health physical therapy at Medical Associates.
- Prendergast SA, Rummer EH. Pelvic pain explained: what everyone needs to know. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield; 2016.