Men & Pelvic Floor Health
What you should be doing more
Pelvic floor muscles are an abandoned part of the body. We don’t seem to talk enough about this part of our anatomy much like we do with our hamstrings and biceps. So come and learn with us!
We use it to poop, pee and have sex
Yeap, you read that right. We use our pelvic floor muscles a lot when we poop, pee and have sex. This is because our pelvic floor literally acts as a floor, holding up vital organs like our pelvis, bladder, intestines and internal reproductive organs. Its muscles and connective tissues provide flexibility for bodily functions to occur. They also absorb external pressure when we lift heavy things or simply cough. This goes a long way in protecting our spine and organs.
Speaking of muscles, the ability to control our pelvic floor muscles forms the process of waste removal. The pelvic floor muscles coordinate the urethra and the anus. When we squeeze the muscles, the passageways narrow, causing the stool to pass through. Basically it:
- Supports the bladder, urethra, prostate, bowel (large intestine), rectum and anus.
- Squeezes and relaxes when peeing, pooping or passing gas.
- Helps with erections and ejaculation during sex.
What can go wrong
Pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by:
- Surgery for bladder or bowel problems.
- Being overweight.
- Persistent heavy lifting.
- High-impact exercise.
- Persistent coughing.
As a result, weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to:
- STRESS INCONTINENCE:
Peeing when you laugh, cough, sneeze or lift something.
- URGE INCONTINENCE:
Frequently feeling the urge to pee and not being able to hold it.
- FAECAL INCONTINENCE:
Struggling to control bowel movements.
- ANAL INCONTINENCE:
Struggling to control when you pass gas.
Can they be too tight? They sure can! Hypertonic pelvic floor occurs when the muscles are tense and can’t relax. People with this issue experience constipation, painful sex, urgency and pelvic pain.
How to solve it
Before working on it, you must first feel your pelvic floor muscles. Try these out:
- URETHRA: Imagine that you’re peeing and squeezing as if you were stopping the flow midstream.
- ANUS: Squeeze your anus as if you were preventing yourself from breaking wind. In each case, you should feel muscles inside your pelvis pull inward and upward. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
- Stand in front of a mirror with no clothes on. Pull in your pelvic floor muscles strongly and hold them. You should see the penis draw in and your scrotum should lift.
Now that you know where they are, try out these popular pelvic floor muscle exercises, also known as Kegel exercises:
- Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your anus. Lift them up inside. You should have a sense of “lift” each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles.
- Try to hold them strong and tight as you count to 8. Now, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of “letting go”. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold for as long as you can.
- Repeat “squeeze and lift” and let go. It is best to rest for about 8 seconds in between each lift-up of the muscles.
- Repeat this “squeeze and lift” as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 10 squeezes. This equals one set.
- Try to do three sets of 8 to 10 squeezes each day.
WE USE OUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES A LOT WHEN WE POOP, PEE AND HAVE SEX. THIS IS BECAUSE OUR PELVIC FLOOR LITERALLY ACTS AS A FLOOR, HOLDING UP VITAL ORGANS LIKE OUR PELVIS, BLADDER, INTESTINES AND INTERNAL REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS.
Kegel exercises can be done anywhere while sitting, standing or lying down. Remember to:
- Keep breathing.
- Only squeeze and lift.
- Do not tighten your buttocks.
- Keep your thighs relaxed.
Other treatments include:
- Managing constipation through diet, exercise or medications.
- Surgery to reconstruct and secure your pelvic organs in place.
Pelvic floor exercises are highly effective when individually tailored and monitored. If you are unsure, don’t risk it. Speak to pelvic health physiotherapists for their expert opinions.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Healthline