Men, it’s not all about your penis regarding sexual health. The hidden apparatus of your pelvic floor has a starring role in controlling your bladder and bowel continence, but also sexual function. So, let’s say a weak pelvic floor does you no favors and can lead to numerous incontinence issues, ultimately affecting your sex life.
Understanding the male pelvic floor
Think of your pelvic floor sort of like a hammock: Starting at the pubic bone in front and then stretching back to the tailbone, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles spanning this length supporting a man’s bladder, rectum, prostate, erectile tissues, and digestive organs. These pelvic organs rest comfortably inside this hammock of muscles as they perform their tasks.
Besides acting as a support sling for the pelvic organs, your pelvic floor wears many work hats, including the following:
- Sphincter control – To avoid uncontrolled urine or bowel leakage throughout the day, good sphincter control is necessary. That’s why strong pelvic floor muscles that clamp down on the passageways for voiding urine or bowel movements when not using the toilet will relax during the times you need to urinate or have a bowel movement.
- Stability – Believe it or not, your pelvic floor muscles not only support the pelvic organs but also work with other muscles for better movement and even posture. This allows you to have better stabilization when your hips move during walking and provide stabilization for your back and abdominal muscles.
- Sexual health – A man’s sexual health relies on a well-functioning pelvic floor to achieve and maintain an erection, ejaculate during orgasm, and feel the pleasurable sensations of orgasm.
- Expel ejaculation – To expel ejaculate fluid, your pelvic muscles need to squeeze and then release this fluid. These same muscles also squeeze the urethra – the tube that allows passage of urine from the bladder to the penis – for the last drops of urine to prevent urinary leakage.
Multiple layers of muscles make up the pelvic floor, making it a fascinating and complex muscular system. Each layer has duties that include helping with ejaculation, orgasm, urination, and bowel control, stabilizing the pelvis, and reinforcing the structural integrity.
Red flags of a weak pelvic floor
When your pelvic floor is strong, it will perform at its best with few urinary or bowel issues. But, just like a hammock sagging or tearing, a weak pelvic floor will also show signs you need to pay attention to. These signs include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal or gas incontinence
- Nocturia or waking up more than once to urinate
- Bladder pain or bladder spasms
- Changes in urine stream – weak flow or hesitancy in starting a stream
- Hemorrhoids or pain with sitting
- Sexual pain such as erection pain, during or after ejaculation, or pain during or after intercourse
- Pain in the penis, testicles, or scrotum
- Sensory changes such as numbness, tingling and burning in the pelvic region, including sex organs
How to strengthen your pelvic floor
The ideal situation is that men always have strong, well-functioning pelvic floor muscles. However, wishful thinking that these muscles will naturally stay strong over your lifetime is just wishful thinking. Like any muscle in your body, you either use it or lose it. Using it means taking proactive measures to keep muscles strong and healthy.
Fortunately, you have multiple ways of keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong indefinitely. Therefore, now is the best time to start and not wait until you notice problems. But, even if you already have signs and symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles, it’s not too late to take advantage of the help available for treating this condition.
Here are ways for men to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles:
- Talk to your healthcare provider
Start first by talking to your primary healthcare provider. Pelvic floor health is vital. It affects urological health, including your sex life. Urological symptoms you notice are best addressed early on rather than waiting to see if they improve on their own. Waiting too long could result in loss of total pelvic floor strength. By talking to your healthcare provider, they can assess the situation and make recommendations or referrals to healthcare professionals specializing in this area.
- Kegels for men
Sexual health, prostate health, and pelvic floor health will benefit significantly from regular Kegel exercises. While not an aerobic exercise raising heart rate or burning belly fat, Kegels for men can help immensely with urinary incontinence and better sex life. In addition, they can be done discreetly anywhere at any time of the day. For men, simply squeezing the muscles to stop urine flow is performing a Kegel. Once the muscles are squeezed, hold the squeeze for at least 5-10 seconds, and then release. To get the most benefits, repeat three sets of 10 Kegels daily.
- Biofeedback therapy
Physical therapists have been used a fundamental tool for pelvic floor rehabilitation called biofeedback. This training technique strengthens both weak and overactive pelvic floor muscles helping men gain better urinary and bowel control. In addition, biofeedback and behavior modification, helps retrain pelvic floor muscles to improve muscle strength while also improving urinary incontinence issues.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.