Rectoceles And Perineal Laxity: What You Need To Know

May 20, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/20/17

recto copy

Image above: protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina, a.k.a. rectocele (blue arrow); also note catheter in urethra (red arrow) and gaping vagina with scarring of tissues between vagina and anus, a.k.a. perineum (white arrow)

A rectocele is a specific type of pelvic organ prolapse in which the pelvic floor muscles and connective supporting tissue between the lower vaginal wall and rectum weaken, allowing protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina and at times outside the vaginal opening. This not uncommonly follows vaginal childbirth, which places tremendous stresses on the tissues that provide to support of the pelvic organs. Other risk factors for the occurrence of a rectocele are chronic straining, menopause and weight gain.

Rectoceles are also known by the terms “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” and “rectal hernia.” The most common symptom is an annoying vaginal bulge that worsens with assuming the upright position and being active and tends to improve with sitting, lying down and being sedentary. It is often quite noticeable when straining to move one’s bowels. It can give rise to bowel difficulties—most notably what is referred to as “obstructed defecation”—including constipation, incomplete bowel emptying, diarrhea and fecal incontinence. The prolapsed rectum often needs to be manipulated back into position in order to be able to effectively move one’s bowels. Rectoceles can also cause vaginal pressure, vaginal pain and painful sexual intercourse.

Relevant trivia: The word “rectum” derives from the Latin word meaning “straight,” because under normal circumstances the rectum is a straight chute, facilitating bowel movements. The presence of a rectocele causes kinking of the rectum to occur, destroying this anatomical arrangement and making bowel movements difficult without “splinting” the rectum (straightening it out) using one or more fingers placed in the vagina.

Often accompanying a rectocele is laxity of the perineal muscles, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. This causes a widened vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal angle. Women who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina. This may lead to difficulty keeping a tampon in position without it falling out, the vagina filling with water while bathing, vaginal flatulence (the embarrassing passage of air) and sexual issues including difficulty retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse and difficulty achieving orgasm. Perineal laxity may result in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it during sexual intercourse, with the end result diminished pleasurable sensation for both partners. The perception of having a loose vagina and altered anatomy can lead to self-esteem and other psychological issues.

Relevant trivia: Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner vaginal lips, there will be limited clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom.

Management of Rectoceles

Rectoceles can be managed conservatively with pelvic floor exercises, behavioral modifications and consideration for using a pessary. Alternatively, surgical treatment, a.k.a. pelvic reconstruction, is often necessary for more extensive rectoceles or for those that do not respond to conservative measures.

Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate rectocele, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the muscles that play a key role in the support of the rectum and perineum. Weak pelvic muscles can undoubtedly be strengthened; however, if there is connective tissue damage, pelvic training will not remedy the injury, but does serve to strengthen the muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. If not completely cured with PFMT, the rectocele and perineal laxity can still be improved, and that might be sufficient.  Chapter 5 in The Kegel Fix book  (www.TheKegelFix.com) is devoted to a specific PFMT regimen for rectoceles and other forms of pelvic organ prolapse.  Note that if the pelvic floor muscles are torn or widely separated, PFMT will not be productive until surgical repair is performed.

Another component of conservative management is modification of activities that promote the rectocele (heavy lifting and high impact exercises), management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation and consideration for estrogen hormone replacement, since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device that is available in a variety of sizes and shapes and is inserted into the vagina where it acts as a “strut” to help provide pelvic support and keep the rectum in proper position. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Surgery is often necessary in the case of a symptomatic moderate-severe rectocele, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. This type of surgery is most often done vaginally, typically on an outpatient basis. Both the rectocele and the perineal laxity are addressed.  The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal dimensions and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bowel and sexual function.  With improvement of anatomy, function often significantly improves, since function often follows form. Difficulties with evacuation, constipation, straining, incomplete emptying and fecal incontinence should improve, if not resolve. There should no longer be a need to splint the rectum and sexual function (for both patient and partner) should dramatically improve with the rebuilding of the perineum.

Marietta S pre-PP

Pre-operative photo–note gaping vulva, exposed vagina, rectocele and perineal laxity; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Mariette S 6 wk p.o. PP

Post-operative photo–note closed vulva, unexposed vagina and restored perineum after levatorplasty, vaginoplasty, perineorrhaphy and aesthetic perineoplasty; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com  

Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from Dr. Siegel’s The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (Chapter 5. Pelvic Organ Prolapse)

6 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Prostate Cancer

May 13, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/13/17

Prostate cancer is incredibly common– one man in seven will be diagnosed with it in his lifetime–with average age at diagnosis mid 60s. In 2015, an estimated 221,000 American men were diagnosed and 28,000 men died of the disease.  Although many with low-risk prostate cancer can be managed with careful observation and monitoring, those with moderate-risk and high-risk disease need to be managed more aggressively. With proper evaluation and treatment, only 3% of men will die of the disease. There are over 2.5 million prostate cancer survivors who are alive today.

Factoid: The #1 cause of death in men with prostate cancer is heart disease, as it is in the rest of the population. 

finger 2

This is the index finger of yours truly; observe the narrow digit, a most desirable feature for a urologist who examines many prostates in any given day.  The digital rectal exam of the prostate is a 15-second exam that is at most a bit uncomfortable, but vital in the screening process and certainly nothing to fear.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if prostate cancer could be prevented? Unfortunately, we are not there yet—but we do have an understanding of measures that can be pursued to help minimize your chances of developing prostate cancer.

Factoid: When Asian men–who have one of the lowest rates of prostate cancer– migrate to western countries, their risk of prostate cancer increases over time. Clearly, a coronary-clogging western diet high in animal fat and highly processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables is associated with a higher incidence of many preventable problems, including prostate cancer.

The presence of prostate cancer pre-cancerous lesions commonly seen on prostate biopsy—including high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP)—many years before the onset of prostate cancer, coupled with the fact the prostate cancer increases in prevalence with aging, suggest that the process of developing prostate cancer takes place over a protracted period of time. It is estimated that it takes many years—often more than a decade—from the initial prostate cell mutation to the time when prostate cancer manifests with either a PSA elevation, an acceleration in PSA, or an abnormal digital rectal examination. In theory, this provides the opportunity for intervention before the establishment of a cancer.

Measures to Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

  1. Maintain a healthy weight since obesity has been correlated with an increased prostate cancer incidence.
  2. Consume a healthy diet with abundant fruits and vegetables (full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber) and real food, as opposed to processed and refined foods. Eat plenty of red vegetables and fruits including tomato products (rich in lycopene). Consume isoflavones (chickpeas, tofu, lentils, alfalfa sprouts, peanuts). Eat animal fats and dairy in moderation. Consume fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout and mackerel.  Follow the advice of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
  3. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol intake.
  4. Stay active and exercise on a regular basis. If you do develop prostate cancer, you will be in tip-top physical shape and will heal that much better from any intervention necessary to treat the prostate cancer.
  5. Get checked out! Be proactive by seeing your doctor annually for a digital rectal exam of the prostate and a PSA blood test. Abnormal findings on these screening tests are what prompt prostate biopsies, the definitive means of diagnosing prostate cancer. The most common scenario that ultimately leads to a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a PSA acceleration, an elevation above the expected incremental annual PSA rise based upon the aging process.

Important Factoid: An isolated PSA (out of context) is not particularly helpful. What is meaningful is comparing PSA on a year-to-year basis and observing for any acceleration above and beyond the expected annual incremental change associated with aging and benign prostate growth. Many labs use a PSA of 4.0 as a cutoff for abnormal, so it is possible that you can be falsely lulled into the impression that your PSA is normal.  For example, if your PSA is 1.0 and a year later it is 3.0, it is still considered a “normal” PSA even though it has tripled (highly suspicious for a problem) and mandates further investigation. 

  1. Certain medications reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 25% or so and may be used for those at high risk, including men with a strong family history of prostate cancer or those with pre-cancerous biopsies. These medications include Finasteride and Dutasteride, which are commonly used to treat benign prostate enlargement as well as male pattern hair loss. These medications lower the PSA by 50%, so any man taking this class of medication will need to double their PSA in order to approximate the actual PSA. If the PSA does not drop, or if it goes up while on this class of medication, it is suspicious for undiagnosed prostate cancer. By shrinking benign prostate growth, these medications also increase the ability of the digital rectal exam to detect an abnormality.

Bottom Line: A healthy lifestyle, including a wholesome and nutritious diet, maintaining proper weight, participating in an exercise program and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol can lessen one’s risk of all chronic diseases, including prostate cancer.  Be proactive by getting a 15-second digital exam of the prostate and PSA blood test annually.  Prevention and early detection are the key elements to maintaining both quantity and quality of life. 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

 

12 STEPS TO OVERCOMING “OVER-ACTIVE” BLADDER (OAB)

May 6, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/6/17 (my daughter’s 18th birthday!)

For most people, the urinary bladder is a cooperative and obedient organ, behaving and adhering to its master’s will, squeezing only when appropriate. However, some people have bladders that are unruly and disobedient, acting rashly and irrationally, squeezing at inappropriate times without their master’s permission. This condition is referred to as “overactive bladder” or OAB for short. This problem can occur in both women and men, although it is more common in females.

Picture1

“Gotta go,” the urinary urgency that is the hallmark of OAB

8. UUI

Image above (artist Ashley Halsey from “The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health”) illustrates a bladder contracting involuntarily, leading to urinary leakage

OAB (http://www.njurology.com/overactive-bladder/) is a common condition often due to one’s bladder contracting (squeezing) at any time without warning.  This involuntary bladder contraction can give rise to the symptoms of urgency, frequency (daytime and nighttime) and urgency incontinence. The key symptom of OAB is urinary urgency (a.k.a. “gotta go”), the sudden and compelling desire to urinate that is difficult to postpone.

Although OAB symptoms can occur without specific provocation, they may be triggered by exposure to running water, cold or rainy weather, hand-washing, entering the shower, positional changes such as arising from sitting, and getting nearer and nearer to a bathroom, particularly at the time of placing the key in the door to one’s home.

An evaluation includes a urinalysis (dipstick exam of the urine), a urine culture (test for urinary infection) if indicated, and determination of the post-void residual volume (amount of urine left in bladder immediately after emptying). A 24-hour voiding diary (record of urination documenting time and volume) is an extremely helpful tool.  Urodynamics (test of storage and emptying bladder functions), cystoscopy (visual inspection of inside of bladder), and renal and bladder ultrasound (imaging tests using sound waves) may also prove helpful.

The management of OAB is challenging, yet rewarding, and necessitates a partnership between patient and physician. Successful treatment requires a willing, informed and engaged patient with a positive attitude. Management options for OAB range from non-invasive strategies to pills to surgery. It is sensible to start with the simplest and least invasive means of treatment and progress accordingly to more aggressive and invasive treatments if there is not a satisfactory response to conservative measures.  Behavioral treatments are first-line: fluid management, bladder training, bladder control strategies, pelvic floor muscle training and lifestyle measures.  Behavioral therapies may be combined with medication(s), which are considered second-line treatment. Third-line treatments include neuromodulation (stimulating specific nerves to improve OAB symptoms) and Botox injections into the urinary bladder.

References that will help the process include the following:

Book: THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health www.TheKegelFix.com

Book: MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health www.MalePelvicFitness.com

DVD: Easy-to-use, follow-along, FDA-registered pelvic training program that includes a detailed instruction guide, an interactive DVD and digital access to the guided training routines: www.PelvicRx.com

12 Steps To Overcoming OAB

The goal of the 12 steps that follow is to re-establish control of the urinary bladder.  Providing that the recommendations are diligently adhered to, there can be significant improvement, if not resolution, of OAB symptoms.

  1. FLUID AND CAFFEINE MODERATION/MEDICATION ASSESSMENT  Symptoms of OAB will often not occur until a “critical” urinary volume is reached, and by limiting fluid intake, it will take a longer time to achieve this volume. Try to sensibly restrict your fluid intake in order to decrease the volume of urinary output. Caffeine (present in tea, coffee, colas, some energy drinks and chocolate) and alcohol increase urinary output and are urinary irritants, so it is best to limit intake of these beverages/foods.  Additionally, many foods—particularly fruits and vegetables—have hidden water content, so moderation applies here as well.  It is important to try to consume most of your fluid intake before 7:00 PM to improve nocturnal frequency. Diuretic medications (water pills) can contribute to OAB symptoms. It is worthwhile to check with your medical doctor to see if it is possible to change to an alternative, non-diuretic medication. This will not always be feasible, but if so, may substantially improve your symptoms.
  2. URGENCY INHIBITION Reacting to the first sense of urgency by running to the bathroom needs to be substituted with urgency inhibition techniques. Stop in your tracks, sit, relax and breathe deeply. Pulse your pelvic floor muscles rhythmically (see below) to deploy your own natural reflex to resist and suppress urgency.
  3. TIMED VOIDING (for incontinence) Urinating by the “clock” and not by your own sense of urgency will keep your bladder as empty as possible. By emptying the bladder before the critical volume is reached (at which urgency incontinence occurs), the incontinence can be controlled.  Voiding on a two-hour basis is usually effective, although the specific timetable has to be tailored to the individual in accordance with the voiding diary.  Such “preemptive” or “defensive” voiding is a very useful technique since purposeful urinary frequency is more desirable than incontinence.
  4. BLADDER RETRAINING (for urgency/frequency) This is imposing a gradually increasing interval between voids to establish a more normal pattern of urination. Relying on your own sense of urgency often does not give you accurate information about the status of your bladder fullness.  Urinating by the “clock” and not by your own sense of urgency will keep your voided volumes more appropriate. Voiding on a two-hour basis is usually effective as a starting point, although the specific timetable has to be tailored to the individual, based upon the voiding diary.  A gradual and progressive increase in the interval between voiding can be achieved by consciously delaying urinating.  A goal of an increase in the voiding interval by 15-30 minutes per week is desirable.  Eventually, a return to more acceptable voiding intervals is possible.  The urgency inhibiting techniques mentioned above are helpful with this process.
  5. BOWEL REGULARITY Avoidance of constipation is an important means of helping control OAB symptoms. Because of the proximity of the rectum and bladder, a full rectum can put pressure on the bladder, resulting in worsening of urgency, frequency and incontinence.
  6. PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE TRAINING (PFMT)  *All patients need to understand the vital role of the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) in inhibiting urgency and frequency and preventing urge leakage.  PFMT voluntarily employs the PFM to help stimulate inhibitory reflexes between the pelvic floor muscles and the bladder.  Rhythmic pulsing of the PFM can inhibit an involuntary contraction once it starts and prevent an involuntary contraction before it even begins. Initially, one must develop an awareness of the presence, location, and nature of the PFM and then train these muscles to increase their strength and tone.  These are not the muscles of the abdominal wall, thighs or buttocks.  A simple means of recognizing the PFM for a female is to insert a finger inside her vagina and squeeze the PFM until the vagina tightens around her finger.  A simple means of identifying the PFM for either gender is to start urinating and when about half completed, to abruptly stop the stream. It is the PFM that allows one to do so. It is important to recognize the specific triggers that induce urgency, frequency or incontinence and prior to exposure to a trigger or at the time of the perceived urgency, rhythmic pulsing of the PFM–“snapping” the PFM several times–can either preempt the abnormal bladder contraction before it occurs or diminish or abort the bladder contraction after it begins.  Thus, by actively squeezing the PFM just before and during these trigger activities, the urgency can be diminished and the urgency incontinence can often be avoided.

oab

Schematic diagram above illustrates the relationship of the contractile state of the bladder muscle to the contractile state of the PFM. Note that a voluntary PFM contraction can turn off an involuntary bladder contraction (+ symbol denotes contraction; – symbol denotes relaxation)

7. LIFESTYLE MEASURES: HEALTHY WEIGHT, EXERCISE, TOBACCO CESSATION   The burden of excess pounds can worsen OAB issues by putting pressure on the urinary bladder. Even a modest weight loss may improve OAB symptoms.  Pursuing physical activities can help maintain general fitness and improve urinary control. Lower impact exercises–yoga, Pilates, cycling, swimming, etc.–can best help alleviate pressure on the urinary bladder by boosting core muscle strength and tone and improving posture and alignment. The chemical constituents of tobacco constrict blood vessels, impair blood flow, decrease tissue oxygenation and promote inflammation, compromising the bladder, urethra and PFM.  By eliminating tobacco, symptoms of OAB can be improved. 

8.  BLADDER RELAXANT MEDICATIONS A variety of medications are useful to suppress OAB symptoms. It may take several trials of different medications or combinations of medications to achieve optimal results. The medications include the following: Tolterodine (Detrol LA), Oxybutynin (Ditropan XL), Transdermal Oxybutynin (Oxytrol patch), Oxybutynin gel (Gelnique), Trospium (Sanctura), Solifenacin (Vesicare), Darifenacin (Enablex) and Fesoterodine (Toviaz).  The most common side effects are dry mouth and constipation.  These medications cannot be used in the presence of urinary or gastric retention or uncontrolled narrow-angle glaucoma.  The newest medication, Mirabegron (Myrbetriq), has a different mechanism of action and fewer side effects.

9.  BIOFEEDBACK This is an adjunct to PFMT in which electronic instrumentation is used to relay feedback information about your PFM contractions.  This can enhance awareness and strength of the PFM.

10.  BOTOX TREATMENT This is a simple office procedure in which Botox is injected directly into the bladder muscle, helping reduce OAB symptoms by relaxing those areas of the bladder into which it is injected. Botox injections generally will last for six to nine months and are covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.

11.  PERCUTANEOUS TIBIAL NERVE STIMULATION (PTNS) This is a minimally invasive form of neuromodulation in which a tiny acupuncture-style needle is inserted near the tibial nerve in the ankle and a hand-held stimulator generates electrical stimulation with the intent of improving OAB symptoms. This is done once weekly for 12 weeks.

12.  INTERSTIM This is a more invasive form of neuromodulation in which electrical impulses are used to stimulate and modulate sacral nerves in an effort to relieve the OAB symptoms. A battery-powered neuro-stimulator (bladder “pacemaker”) provides the mild electrical impulses that are carried by a small lead wire to stimulate the selected sacral nerves that affect bladder function.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Putting Some “Lead” In Your Pencil: A Fix For The “Innie” Penis

April 29, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   4/28/2017

pencil pixbay

Thank you, Pixabay, for image above

As Multi-Functional as a Swiss Army Knife

The penis is an extraordinary organ with urinary, sexual and reproductive functions. The possession of a penis endows man with the ability to stand to urinate and direct his urinary stream, a distinct advantage over the clumsy apparatus of the fairer sex that generates a spraying, poor-directed stream that demands sitting down on a toilet seat. The advantage of being able to stand to urinate (and keep one’s body appropriately distanced from the horrors of many public toilets) is priceless. Although man does not often have to employ this, the capability (when necessary) of urinating outside is another benefit of our design.  Many find the outdoor voiding experience pleasing, observing the pleasant sounds and visuals of a forceful stream striking our target (often a tree) with finesse, creating rivulets and cascades to show for our efforts.

Getting beyond the urinary, the most dramatic penis magic is its ability to change its form in a matter of seconds, morphing into an erect “proud soldier” and enabling the wherewithal for vaginal penetration and with sufficient stimulation, for ejaculation.  All that fun, but really serving the purpose of the passage of genetic material and ultimately the perpetuation of our species…reproductive wizardry!

The water tap that could turn into a pillar of fire.”

Eric Gill

tap pixabay

pixabay pillar

Thank you, Pixabay, for images above

 

The Sometimes Cruel Process of Aging Does Not Spare the Penis

 “Getting older is an honor and a privilege, but getting old is a burden.”

Beverly Radow (my aunt, who will turn 90-years-old this year)

Long after our reproductive years are over and fatherhood is no longer a consideration, most men still wish to be able to achieve a decent-enough erection to have sexual intercourse.  As well, we still desire to be able to urinate standing upright with laser-like urinary stream precision.

However, the ravages of time (and poor lifestyle habits) can wreak havoc on penile anatomy and function.  Many middle-aged men typically gain a few pounds a year, ultimately developing a bit of a pubic fat pad–the male equivalent of the female mons pubis– and before you know it the penis appears shorter and becomes an “innie” as opposed to an “outie.”  In actuality, penile length is usually more-or-less preserved, with the penis merely hiding behind the fat pad, the “turtle effect.” Lose the fat and presto…the penis reappears. This is why having a plus-sized figure is not a good thing when it comes to size matters.

Useful Factoid: The Angry Inch…It is estimated that there is a one-inch loss in apparent penile length with every 35 lbs. of weight gain.

One of the problems with a shorter and more internal penis is that the forceful and precise urinary stream of yesteryear gives way to a spraying and dribbling-quality stream that can drip down one’s legs, spray over the floor and onto one’s feet (and even at times towards or on the gentleman next to you at the urinal!).

Almost Useless Factoid: Water Sports…Turkey vultures pee on themselves to deal with the heat of the summer on their dark feathers, since they lack sweat glands.  By excreting on their legs, the birds use urine evaporation to cool themselves down in the process of “urohidrosis.”  Unless you are a turkey vulture, peeing on yourself or others is rather undesirable!

The solution to having a recessed penis that is often hidden from sight and has lost its aiming capabilities is to sit on the toilet bowl to urinate, joining the leagues of our female companions who are “stream-challenged” because of their anatomy.

With aging (and poor lifestyle habits) also comes declining sexual function and activity as rigid erections going by the wayside.  However, like any other body part, the penis needs to be used on a regular basis—the way nature intended—in order to maintain its health. In the absence of regular sexual activity, disuse atrophy (wasting away with a decline in anatomy and function) of the penile erectile tissues can occur, resulting in a de-conditioned and smaller penis that does not function like it used to.

Factoid: Disuse Atrophy…If one goes too long without an erection, collagen, smooth muscle, elastin and other erectile tissues may become compromised, resulting in a loss of penile length and girth and limiting one’s ability to achieve an erection.  Conversely, sexual intercourse on a regular basis protects against ED issues and the risk of ED is inversely related to the frequency of intercourse.

The point I am trying to hammer home is that aging, weight gain and poor lifestyle habits often render men with penises that are:

  1. Shrunken and recessed
  2. Unreliable in terms of ability to pee straight, requiring sitting down on the toilet bowl like women
  3. Unreliable with respect to sexual function

Factoid: Point 1 + Point 2 + Point 3 = EMASCULATION (depriving man of his male role and identity)

What To Do?

The first step is to keep one’s body (and penis) as healthy as possible via intelligent lifestyle choices. These include the following: smart eating habits; maintaining a healthy weight; engaging in exercise (including pelvic floor muscle training); obtaining adequate sleep; consuming alcohol in moderation; avoiding tobacco; and stress reduction. The use of ED medications on a low-dose, daily basis can sometimes help all 3 issues.

In the event that the aforementioned means fail to correct the problem, a virtually sure-fire way of rectifying all three issues is by a simple surgical procedure.  Malleable penile implants (penile rods) are surgically placed into each erectile chamber of the penis (the two inner tubes of the penis that under normal circumstances fill with blood to create an erection). The implants act as skeletal framework for the penis (“bones” of the penis). Two USA companies, Coloplast and AMS (American Medical Systems) manufacture the rods that are in current use. They are very similar with subtle differences.

464x261_GenesisColoplast Genesis implant

AMS Spectra

American Medical Systems Spectra implant

The implant procedure of these two stiff-but-flexible rods into the erectile chambers of the penis is performed by a urologist on an outpatient basis.  Like shoes, the penile rods come in a variety of lengths and widths and fundamental to the success of the procedure is to properly measuring the dimensions of the erectile chambers in order to obtain an ideal fit. The small incision needed to implant the rods is closed with sutures that dissolve on their own. Healing typically takes about 6 weeks, after which sexual relations can be initiated.

An erection suitable for penetration and sexual intercourse is available 24-7-365, simply by bending the penis up. The penis is angled down for concealment purposes. It is flexible enough to be comfortably flexed up or down, while rigid enough for intercourse, the best of all worlds.

Print

Penile rods in action, bent down for concealment and up for urination and sex

Bottom Line:  It is not uncommon for aging, weight gain and unhealthy lifestyle factors to conspire to compromise penile anatomy and function with respect to apparent penile size, urinary stream precision and erectile rigidity.  This leaves one emasculated with a penis that is often concealed, shortened and habitually limp, impeding the ability to have sexual intercourse, as well as a spraying quality urinary stream necessitating sitting to urinate.  If lifestyle improvement measures do not correct the situation, literally and figuratively “putting some lead in your pencil” using a simple malleable penile implant can “kill three birds with one stone.” (I could not resist the very mixed metaphor.)  Confidence can be restored with the conversion of the “innie” penis to an “outie,” the ability to resume sexual intercourse and the reestablishment of a directed, non-spraying stream to permit standing to urinate.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

Bladder Cancer Treatment With TB Vaccine

April 22, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/22/17

The use of tuberculosis vaccine (a.k.a. bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG) to treat bladder cancer is one of the great success stories in the history of using the immune system to combat cancer. For 40 years, BCG has been recognized as the standard of care for high-grade, superficial bladder cancer and carcinoma-in-situ (CIS), a flat but high-grade bladder cancer. The use of BCG is responsible for significantly reducing bladder cancer progression and recurrence.

IMG_2097

Image above: BCG in powdered form that needs to be reconstituted

bladder-ca

Image above: Typical appearance of a superficial bladder cancer

 

Bladder cancer has a strong tendency to recur, despite cystoscopy-guided complete removal of visible tumors (using a “telescope” placed within the bladder via the urethra). This approach can only treat obvious and visible tumors, with the real possibility that there are additional tumors present that are not yet visible (microscopic), since bladder cancer is a “field” disease—capable of occurring anywhere within the bladder lining. One of the rationales for using a medication like BCG is that it is a liquid formulation that is instilled in the bladder and will bathe all inner surfaces of the bladder. I often use the analogy of plucking out dandelions in your lawn individually as opposed to using a weed spray with respect to the difference between bladder tumor resection (cystoscopic surgical removal) and using a BCG-like medication.

A Brief History of BCG

BCG is a unique strain of “weakened” mycobacterium bovis (cow tuberculosis bacterium) developed by Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin at the Pasteur Institute in Lille, France in 1921 as a tuberculosis vaccine. At the time of its development, there was a growing recognition of the relationship between the immune system and cancer. In 1929, it was discovered that BCG might also have a role in the treatment of cancer when autopsy findings in TB patients were correlated with a reduced prevalence of cancers. Early investigators found that mice given BCG were protected against cancers that were implanted. In 1975, Dr. Jean deKernion at UCLA reported a melanoma that had spread to the bladder that was eliminated by direct injection of BCG into the melanoma. In 1976, Alvaro Morales successfully instilled BCG inside the bladder to treat bladder cancer and after clinical trials it was FDA approved for use within the bladder in 1990…The rest is history.

How It Works

BCG activates the immune system and triggers an inflammatory response that destroys bladder cancer cells. A good response to BCG immunotherapy requires a patient with an immune system capable of mounting a cellular immune response. It is accomplished by infusing a sufficient quantity of BCG so that it has direct contact with cancer cells.

How It Is Used

BCG is instilled directly within the urinary bladder.  One cycle is a once per week treatment for 6 weeks.  A full course is two cycles, followed by maintenance therapy. Typically the BCG treatment is initiated two weeks or so following the bladder tumor resection to allow the bladder time to heal. BCG is placed inside the urinary bladder using a narrow catheter. Retaining it for two hours is ideal and rotating body position is important so that all areas of the bladder are adequately bathed with the BCG.

Side Effects of BCG

Low-grade fever, urinary urgency, frequency, burning and blood in the urine are typical symptoms, often indicative of the immune response being mounted.   Occasionally, flu-like symptoms may occur, including fever, chills, cough, muscle and joint aches. When severe symptoms occur, BCG concentration can be reduced to 1/3, 1/10, 1/30, or even 1/100th of a dose to prevent escalating side effects.

 Tips For Patients Receiving BCG

  • Avoid drinking any fluids for at least 2 hours and avoid caffeine-containing products for at least 4 hours prior to bladder instillation in order to be able to retain the BCG for a full 2 hours after the instillation and to avoid diluting the concentration of the BCG.
  • Rotate your body in order to bathe all surface areas of the bladder with the BCG (supine, left, right, prone).
  • Care should be used when urinating after the BCG is instilled to avoid contaminating one’s hands or genitals with the BCG. Men should sit to urinate to reduce the likelihood of self-contamination. Hands and genitals should be thoroughly washed afterwards, and household bleach should be added to the toilet immediately after urination. The bleach should stand for 15 minutes before flushing to deactivate the BCG.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

YouTube site: http://www.YouTube.com/incontinencedoc

Vidscrip site (for short educational videos): http://www.Vidscrip.com/andrewsiegel

Pessaries To Treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse: What You Need To Know

April 15, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD    4 /15 /17

A pessary is a vaginal insert that is used to help provide pelvic support in women with vaginal prolapse of the urogenital organs, a.k.a. pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Pessaries are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and when positioned in place within the vagina, function as “struts” to help keep the prolapsing pelvic organ(s) in proper anatomical position. They are ideal for older patients who have medical issues that preclude surgical treatment and for women who opt for non-surgical management.  Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them.  Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

A Few Words on POP

POP is a common condition in which there is weakness of the pelvic muscles and connective tissues that provide pelvic support, allowing one or more of the pelvic organs to move from their normal positions into the potential space of the vaginal canal and, at its most severe degree, outside the vaginal opening. POP is an important issue in women’s health, with an increasing prevalence correlating with extended longevity. Two-thirds of women who have delivered children vaginally have anatomical evidence of POP (although many are not symptomatic) and 10-20% will need to undergo a corrective surgical procedure. The true prevalence of POP is not known because of the large number of women who do not seek medical care for the problem.

POP is not life threatening, but can be a distressing and disruptive problem that negatively impacts quality of life. Despite how common an issue it is, many women are reluctant to seek help because they are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone or have the misconception that there are no treatment options available or fear that surgery will be the only solution.

POP may involve any pelvic organ including the urinary, intestinal and gynecological tracts. The bladder is the organ that is most commonly involved in POP. POP can vary from minimal descent—causing few, if any, symptoms—to major descent—in which one or more of the pelvic organs prolapse outside the vagina at all times, causing significant symptoms. The degree of descent varies with position and activity level, increasing with the upright position and/or exertion and decreasing with lying down and resting, as is the case for any hernia.

POP can give cause a variety of symptoms, depending on which organ is involved and the extent of the prolapse.  The most common complaints are the following: a vaginal bulge or lump, the perception that one’s insides are falling outside, and vaginal “pressure.”  Because POP often causes vaginal looseness in addition to one or more organs falling into the space of the vaginal canal, sexual complaints are common, including painful intercourse, altered sexual feeling and difficulty achieving orgasm as well as less partner satisfaction.

3 Options to Manage POP

  1. Conservative
  2. Pessaries
  3. Surgery (Pelvic Reconstruction) 

Conservative treatment options for POP include pelvic floor muscle training (for details on pelvic muscle training for POP see http://www.TheKegelFix.com), modification of activities that promote the POP (heavy lifting and high impact exercises), management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation and consideration for hormone replacement, since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

Pessary Basics

A pessary is a non-surgical option for treating POP, used with the goal of improving quality of life, body image, and bladder, bowel and sexual function. Pessaries are made of soft and pliable hypoallergenic plastic or silicone and can successfully alleviate symptoms of POP in 85% of those who use them.  About 50% or so of women who trial pessaries continue to use them for the long term, with discontinuation typically occurring in those who cannot retain the pessary, those experiencing discomfort or pain, those who desire surgery, and those who are incapable of inserting and removing them.

It is important to know that pessaries are not successful in all women with POP.  They tend to fail in women with significantly enlarged vaginal openings, in which case the pessary can fall out with effort and exertion. Factors associated with a higher risk for failure are younger age, obesity, and weak pelvic floor muscles.

For Whom is a Pessary Appropriate?

  • Older women who are not candidates for surgery
  • Anyone who desires non-surgical management of their POP
  • For those who need to delay surgery, wish to defer surgery or simply desire to trial one prior to surgery

1-Pessary Image

Image Above: A Potpourri of Pessaries

What Types of Pessaries Are Available?

For Mild-Moderate POP

The ring pessary (7:00 position of image above) is the simplest and most commonly used pessary that has the least side effects.  It is widely employed because of its ease of insertion, good vaginal fit and allowance for sexual intercourse without removing it.  A variation of the ring pessary is one with central support. The oval pessary is a variation of the ring used in narrow vaginas.  The Shaatz pessary (4:00 position of image above) is another variation. The incontinence dish pessary (5:00 position of image above) is used for stress urinary incontinence and mild POP.  A variation of this comes with a central support.

For Moderate-Severe POP

The Gellhorn pessary (3:00 position of image above) is used for greater degrees of POP than the pessaries described in the paragraph above, which are typically used for mild-moderate POP.  It tends to produce the greatest degree of vaginal discharge because of its shape.   The Hodge pessary has wires that can be manually shaped to fit the nuances of one’s anatomy. The Gehrung pessary (10:00 position of image above) also has wires that allow it to be manually shaped.  The donut pessary (center position of image above) is soft allowing it to be compressed for insertion, even with its bulk.  The cube pessary (9:00 position of image above) comes with a tie to help with its removal.

What Are Side Effects Of Pessaries?

The most common side effects are vaginal discharge and vaginitis (vaginal irritation or infection).  Occasionally, vaginal ulcerations can occur because of abrasive contact of the pessary with the delicate lining of the vagina.

How Does One Get Fitted For A Pessary?

A pelvic exam is performed prior to the fitting in order to help determine the proper size and type.  A properly fitted pessary should be large enough to function optimally, but not so large that it causes pressure or discomfort. It should be possible to insert a finger between the pessary’s outer rim and the wall of the vagina.

Usually a ring pessary (size 2, 3, or 4) is initially trialled.  It comes in 9 sizes, ranging from 2.00-4.00 in 0.25 increments.  If unsuccessful, a Gellhorn (size 2, 2.25, 2.5, or 2.75), cube or other model is utilized, depending upon particular circumstances. The largest pessary that is comfortable is placed and the patient is asked to walk and strain to ensure that it remains in proper position.  Motivated patients can be taught how to remove, clean and reinsert it. Typically, removal is done once weekly prior to sleeping, with reinsertion the following morning.  For the less motivated patient, the gynecologist can remove, clean and replace the device every three months or so.

Bottom Line: Pessaries are a non-surgical alternative to help provide pelvic support in women with pelvic organ prolapse.  They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes and need to be fitted and sized to the particulars of one’s anatomy.  They fold and compress to facilitate insertion and removal.  They are ideal for older patients who have medical issues that preclude surgical treatment.  If pessaries fail to improve the POP or cannot be retained or are poorly tolerated, a surgical procedure–pelvic reconstruction–can be performed to remedy the problem.  

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com 

The Penis Pump (Vacuum Erection Device): What You Need To Know

April 8, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/8/17

The vacuum erection device (VED) is an effective means of inducing a penile erection suitable for sexual intercourse–even in difficult to treat men who have diabetes, spinal cord injury, or after radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer.  The device is also useful in the post-operative period following radical prostatectomy to maintain penile length and girth. It has some utility in Peyronie’s disease patients in order to improve curvature, pain and maintain penile dimensions. It can be used prior to penile prosthesis surgery in order to enhance penile length and facilitate the placement of the largest possible implant.  

VED

Image Above: Vacuum Erection Device (obtainable via UrologyHealthStore.com–use promo code UROLOGY 10 for 10% discount and free shipping)

Introduction

Tissue expansion is local tissue enlargement in response to a force that can be internal or external.  Internal tissue expansion occurs naturally with pregnancy, weight gain and the presence of slow growing tumors. Plastic surgeons commonly tap into this principle by using implantable tissue expanders prior to breast reconstructive surgery.

The VED uses the principle of external tissue expansion by using negative pressures applied to the penis to stretch the smooth muscle and sinuses of the penile erectile chambers. The resultant influx of blood increases tissue oxygenation, activates tissue nutrient factors, mobilizes stem cells, helps prevent tissue scarring and cellular death and, importantly, induces an erection.

There are many commercially available VEDs on the market, which share in common a cylinder chamber with one end closed off, a vacuum pump and a constriction ring.  The penis is inserted into the cylinder chamber and an erection is induced by virtue of a vacuum that creates negative pressures and literally sucks blood into the erectile chambers of the penis. To maintain the erection after the vacuum is released, a constriction ring is applied to the base of the penis.  The end result is a rigid penis capable of penetrative intercourse.

Interesting factoid: Similarly designed vacuum suction devices are available for purposes of nipple and clitoral stimulation.

Brief History of VED

In 1874, an American physician named  John King came up with the concept of using a glass exhauster to induce a penile erection. The problem with the device was the loss of the erection as soon as the penis was withdrawn from the exhauster. In 1917 Otto Lederer introduced the first vacuum suction device.  After many years of quiescence, the VED was popularized by Geddins Osbon and named “the Erecaid device.” Currently, the VED is a popular mechanical means of inducing an erection that does not utilize medications or surgery.

Nuts and Bolts of VED Use

The VED is prepared by placing a constriction ring over the open end of the cylinder. A water-soluble lubricant is applied to the base of the penis to achieve a tight seal when the penis is placed into the cylinder.  Either a manual or automatic pump is used to generate negative pressures within the cylinder, which pulls blood into the penis, causing fullness and ultimately rigidity. Once full rigidity is achieved, the constriction ring is pushed off the cylinder onto the base of the penis. Importantly, the ring should never be left on for more than 30 minutes to minimize the likelihood of problems. After the sexual act is completed, the constriction ring must be removed.

Interesting Factoid: The VED can be used alone or in combination with other forms of treatment for ED, including pills (Viagra, Levitra and Cialis), penile injection therapy and penile prostheses.

Pluses and Minuses of the VED

A distinct advantage of the VED is that it is a simple mechanical treatment that does not require drugs or surgery.  Disadvantages are the need for preparation time, which impairs spontaneity.  Another disadvantage is the necessity for wearing the constriction device, which can be uncomfortable and can cause “hinging” at the site of application of the constriction ring resulting in a floppy penis (because of lack of rigidity of the deep roots of the penis) as well as impairing ejaculation. Other potential issues are temporary discomfort or pain, coolness, numbness, altered sensation, engorgement of the penile head, and black and blue areas.

VED After Radical Prostatectomy

Erectile function can be adversely affected by radical prostatectomy with recovery taking months to years. The VED can be used to enhance the speed and extent of sexual recovery after surgery, minimize the decrease in penile length and girth that can occur, and enable achievement of a rigid erection suitable for sexual intercourse.  Clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that VED use after prostatectomy helps maintain existing penile length and prevents loss of length.

Bottom Line:  The VED is one of the oldest treatments for ED that remains in contemporary use.  It works by creating negative pressures that cause an influx of blood into the penile erectile chambers resulting in penile expansion and erection.  Although effective even in difficult to treat populations, the attrition rate is high, perhaps because of the cumbersome nature of the device and the preparation regimen and time involved. However, the VED is an important part of the “erection recovery program” (penile rehabilitation) after prostatectomy, second only to oral ED pills in use for this purpose. It is particularly vital in the preservation and restoration of penile anatomy and size.  It also is useful in ED related to other radical pelvic surgical procedures including colectomy for colon cancer. It remains a viable alternative in men not interested or responsive to ED pills or penile injections and those not interested in surgery.

There are many different VED systems on the market. The Urology Health Store (www.UrologyHealthStore.com) has a nice selection of VEDs (use promo code UROLOGY 10 for 10% discount and free shipping).

** The Urology Health Store  is offering live video VED instructional classes via Skype, Go-To-Meeting or FaceTime.  These classes are available by appointment from 1PM-3PM, U.S. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday.  Call 301-378-8433 for appointment.  No purchase is necessary to take the class.

Excellent resource: External Mechanical Devices and Vascular Surgery for Erectile Dysfunction.  L Trost, R Munarriz, R Wang, A Morey and L Levine: J Sex Med 2016; 13:1579-1617

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

DON’T Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles… TRAIN Them

April 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/1/2017

“Exercise” is not the same as “training” and “pelvic floor exercises” (“Kegels”) are not the same as “pelvic floor training.”

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum (1)

Male (left) and female (right) pelvic floor muscles–By OpenStax [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To anybody interested in the nuances of exercise science, “exercising” and “training” are as different as apples and oranges. Don’t get me wrong—they are both healthy and admirable pursuits and doing any form of physical activity is far superior to being sedentary. However, exercise is more of being “in the moment,” a “here and now” physical activity– the short view. On the other hand, training is a well-planned and thought out process pursued towards the achievement of specific long-term goals– the long view. Every workout in a training program can be thought of as an incremental steppingstone in the process of muscle adaptation to achieve improvement or enhancement of function. The ultimate goal of a training program is being able to apply in a practical way the newly fit and toned muscles to daily activities—functional fitness—in order to achieve a better performance (and when it comes to the pelvic floor muscles, an improved quality of life.)

Muscle training is all about adaptation. Our muscles are remarkably adaptable to the stresses and loads placed upon them. Muscle growth will only occur in the presence of progressive overload, which causes compensatory structural and functional changes. That is why exercises get progressively easier in proportion to the effort put into doing them.  As muscles adapt to the stresses placed upon them, a “new normal” level of fitness is achieved. Another term for adaptation is plasticity–our muscles are “plastic,” meaning they are capable of growth or shrinkage depending on the environment to which they are exposed.

One obvious difference between pelvic floor muscles and other skeletal muscles is that the pelvic muscles are internal and hidden, which adds an element of challenge not present when training the visible arm, shoulder and chest muscles. However, the pelvic floor muscles are similar to other skeletal muscles in terms of their response to training. In accordance with the adaptation principle, incrementally increasing contraction intensity and duration, number of repetitions and resistance will build pelvic muscle strength, power and endurance.

The goal for pelvic floor muscle training is for fit pelvic muscles—strong yet flexible and equally capable of powerful contractions as well as full relaxation. The ultimate goal for pelvic floor muscle training—a goal that often goes unmentioned–is the achievement of “functional pelvic fitness.”  Pelvic floor muscle training really is the essence of functional fitness, training that develops pelvic floor muscle strength, power, stamina and the skill set that can be used to improve and/or prevent specific pelvic functional impairments including those of a sexual, urinary, or bowel nature and those that involve weakened pelvic support resulting in pelvic organ prolapse.

With occasional exceptions, most women and men are unable to perform a proper pelvic muscle contraction and have relatively weak pelvic floor strength. In my opinion, pelvic training programs should therefore initially focus on ensuring that the proper muscles are being contracted and on building muscle memory. It is fundamental to learn basic pelvic floor anatomy and function and how to isolate the pelvic muscles by contracting them independently of other muscles. Once this goal is achieved, pelvic training programs can be pursued.

Programs need to be able to address the specific area of pelvic weakness, e.g., if strength is the issue, emphasis on strength training is in order, whereas if stamina is the issue, focus on endurance training is appropriate. Furthermore, programs need to be designed for specific pelvic floor dysfunctions, with “tailored” training routines customized for the particular pelvic health issue at hand, whether it is stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual/orgasm issues, or pelvic pain. Aligning the specific pelvic floor dysfunction with the appropriate training program that focuses on improving the area of weakness and deficit is fundamental since each pelvic floor dysfunction is associated with unique and specific deficits in strength, power and/or endurance.

It is easiest to initially train the pelvic floor muscles in positions that remove gravity from the picture, then advancing to positions that incorporate gravity. It is sensible to begin with the simplest, easiest, briefest pelvic contractions, then advance to the more challenging, longer duration contractions, slowly and gradually increasing exercise intensity and degree of difficulty.

In my opinion, the initial training should not include resistance, which should be reserved for after achieving mastery of the basic training that provides the foundation for pelvic muscle proficiency.

Bottom Line: If you are serious about improving or preventing a pelvic floor dysfunction, you need to do pelvic floor muscle training as opposed to pelvic floor exercises. There are numerous differences including the following:

  • Training is motivated by specific goals and purposes while exercise is done for its own sake or for more general reasons
  • Training requires a level of focus and intensity not demanded by exercise
  • Training requires a plan
  • Training can be a highly effective means of improving and preventing pelvic floor dysfunction

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

Blood In Urine: Reason For Worry?

March 25, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  3/25/17

The medical term for blood in the urine is “hematuria.”  The most common type is seen only under a microscope and is referred to as “microscopic” hematuria. This is typically discovered at the time of a routine urine test during a health exam. When one can see blood in the urine it is referred to as “gross” hematuria, although I prefer “visible” hematuria. Visible hematuria may cause red urine if the bleeding is fresh or cola or tea-colored urine if the bleeding is old. Sometimes hematuria can be accompanied by blood clots, at times so severe that they clog up the outlet to the bladder causing the inability to urinate.  Sometimes hematuria is only evident by seeing bloodstains on one’s underwear or appearing on toilet tissue.

Image below is the urinary tract; note that blood in the urine can come from any part of this tract (Attribution of image: 2010, author Jordi March i Nogue)

256px-urinary_system-svg

ANATOMY QUIZ: Test your knowledge of urinary tract and adjacent anatomy by labeling structures 1-14 (answers at end of entry)

 

3 Misconceptions Concerning Hematuria

Misconception 1: If you have visible blood in the urine and it goes away, it can be ignored.

Truth: Even if it happens only once, it can be a sign of a serious underlying problem that needs to be determined.

Misconception 2: Microscopic hematuria can be ignored since you cannot see it.

Truth: Microscopic hematuria can be a sign of a serious underlying problem that needs to be evaluated, although it is less commonly associated with a serious problem than visible hematuria.

Misconception 3: Testing can always pinpoint the cause of the hematuria.

Truth: Sometimes the precise cause of the hematuria cannot be determined, despite appropriate testing. However, testing does result in excluding all of the serious underlying causes, meaning that whatever the cause, it is not of significance.

Like a nosebleed, hematuria can be a non-significant problem due to a ruptured blood vessel.  Alternatively, hematuria can be due to serious issues such as kidney or bladder cancers, the two most concerning causes of hematuria.  It is important to know that those who use or who have used tobacco (even if they ceased use many years ago) and have hematuria have a much higher risk of having bladder cancer than non-tobacco users.

Common causes of hematuria in men and women are benign prostate enlargement and urinary tract infections, respectively.  It can occur after vigorous exercise, particularly in those who have bladder stones or other structural abnormalities of the urinary tract. Although most hematuria is painless, when painful hematuria does occur it is often caused by a kidney stone, bladder stone or urinary tract infection. Many people use blood thinners for a variety of reasons. They do not cause hematuria, but if there is an underlying abnormality within the urinary tract, can provoke and perpetuate the bleeding. Hematuria can be a side effect occurring years after pelvic radiation for cancers of the bladder, prostate, uterus, etc.

How Hematuria Is Evaluated

Imaging Tests: A variety of tests can be used to image the urinary tract, including US (ultrasound), CT (computerized tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Retrograde studies involve the injection of contrast into the ureters (tubes that conduct urine from the kidneys to bladder) to image the upper urinary tracts.

Urine Cytology: A Pap smear of urinary tract cells to look for abnormal cells, obtained by providing a urine specimen.

Urine Culture: A lab test to see if a urinary infection is present.

Cystoscopy: A visual inspection of the bladder with a narrow, flexible instrument performed on a monitor with magnification.

Bottom Line: Do not ignore blood in urine, whether it is visible or microscopic. It may be “nothing” (not a sign of a serious illness) or may be “something” (a warning sign of a potentially life-threatening illness), so it is always worthwhile to be properly evaluated. If you experience hematuria, do not panic since the cause can usually be readily determined and treatment initiated; if the precise cause cannot be pinpointed, serious underlying causes can be excluded.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

Answers to anatomy quiz:

  1. Urinary system
  2. Kidney
  3. Renal pelvis
  4. Ureter
  5. Urinary bladder
  6. Urethra (Left side with frontal section)
  7. Adrenal gland
  8. Renal artery and vein
  9. Inferior vena cava
  10. Abdominal aorta
  11. Common iliac artery and vein
  12. Liver
  13. Large intestine
  14. Pelvis

 

Are You “Cliterate”? (Do You Have A Good Working Knowledge Of The Clitoris?)

March 18, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  3/18/17

The clitoris—possessed by all female mammals—is a complex and mysterious organ. Even the word itself–and the way it rolls off the tongue as it is pronounced–is a curiosity.  Many men (and women as well) are relatively clueless (“uncliterate”) about this unique and fascinating female anatomical structure.  The greatest challenge of achieving cliteracy is that so much of this mysterious lady part is subterranean–in the nether regions, unexposed, under the surface, obscured from view–and therefore difficult to decipher.  

The intention of this entry is to enable understanding of what is under the (clitoral) hood, literally and figuratively. Regardless of gender, a greater knowledge and appreciation of the anatomy, function and nuances of this special and unique biological structure will most certainly prove to be useful.  In general terms, proficiency and command of geography and landmarks on the map is always helpful in directing one to arrive at the proper destination.  Consider this entry a clitoral GPS.

 

Klitoriswurzel,_Klitoris,_Klitorisschenkel

The clitoris is mostly subterranean–what you see is merely the “tip of the iceberg.”  The white lines indicate the “rest of the iceberg.”

(By Remas6 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Mountainous and Hilly Female Terrain

The vulva (the external part of the female genital anatomy) consists of hilly terrain. It is well worth learning the “lay of the land” so that it can be traversed with finesse. The mons pubis (pubic mound) is the rounded and prominent mass of fatty tissue overlying the pubic bone, derived from the Latin “mons,” meaning “mountain.” Located beneath the lower part of the mons is the upper portion of the clitoris.  The word clitoris derives from the Greek “kleitoris,” meaning “little hill.”

Mons_pubis_jpg

Lower abdomen, mons pubis and pudendal cleft

By Wikipicturesxd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Epicenter of Female Sexual Anatomy

The clitoris is arguably the most vital structure involved with female sexual response and sexual climax. It is the only human organ that exists solely for pleasure, the penis being a multi-tasker with reproductive and urinary roles as well as being a sexual organ. However, I would argue that nature had much more than simply pleasure in mind when it came to the design of the clitoris, with the ultimate goal being reproduction and perpetuation of the species.  If sex was not pleasurable, there would little incentive for it and pregnancies would be significantly fewer. Think about non-human mammals—what would be their motivation to reproduce if sex were not pleasurable? (Male chimps and female chimps do not sit down together and plan on having a family!)  So, pleasure is the bait and reproduction is the switch in nature’s clever scheme.

The clitoris, like the penis, consists largely of spongy erectile tissue that is rich in blood vessels. The presence of this vascular tissue results in clitoral swelling with sexual arousal, causing clitoral fullness and ultimately a clitoral “erection.”

Penile-Clitoral_Structure

Comparison of penis (left) and clitoris (right), each largely composed of spongy, vascular, erectile tissue

By Esseh (Self-made. Based on various anatomy texts.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Clitoral size is highly variable from woman to woman—certainly as much as penile size. A very large clitoris can resemble a very small penis.

Interesting trivia: The female spotted hyena, squirrel monkey, lemur, and bearcat all have in common a very large clitoris referred to as a “pseudo-penis.”  When erect, it appears like the male’s penis and is used to demonstrate dominance over other clan members.  

The most sensitive part of the clitoris is the “head,” which is typically about the size of a pencil eraser and located at the upper part of the vulva where the inner lips meet. Despite its small size, the head has a dense concentration of nerve endings, arguably more than any other structure in the body. Like the penis, the head is covered with a protective hood known as the “foreskin.”

The head is really the “tip of the iceberg” because the vast majority of the clitoris is unexposed and internal. The clitoris (again like the penis) has a “shaft” (although it is internal) that extends upwards towards the pubic bone. The extensions of the shaft are the wishbone-shaped “legs” that turn downwards and attach to the pubic arch as it diverges on each side. Beneath the legs on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral “bulbs,” sac-shaped erectile tissues that lie beneath the outer vaginal lips. With sexual stimulation, these bulbs become full, plumping and tightening the vaginal opening.

One can think of the legs and bulbs as the roots of a tree, hidden from view and extending deeply below the surface, fundamental to the support and function of the clitoral shaft and head above, comparable to the tree’s trunk and branches.

vulva

Image above by OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30148635, no changes made to original

The Clitoral Response

With sexual arousal and stimulation, the clitoris engorges, resulting in thickening of the clitoral shaft and swelling of the head. With increasing clitoral stimulation, a clitoral erection occurs and ultimately the clitoral shaft and head withdraw from their overhanging position (clitoral “retraction”), pulling inwards against the pubic bone (like a turtle pulling its head in).

Interesting trivia: The blood pressure within the clitoris at the time of a clitoral erection is extremely high, literally at hypertensive (high blood pressure) levels. This is largely on the basis of the contractions of the pelvic floor/perineal muscles that surround the clitoral legs and bulbs and force pressurized blood into the clitoral shaft and head. The only locations in the body where hypertension is normal and, in fact, desirable are the penis and clitoris.

Why The Pelvic Floor Muscles Are Vital To Female Sexual Health And Clitoral Function

During arousal the pelvic floor muscles help increase pelvic blood flow, contributing to vaginal lubrication, genital engorgement and the transformation of the clitoris from flaccid to softly swollen to rigidly engorged.  The pelvic floor muscles enable tightening of the vagina at will and function to compress the deep roots of the clitoris, elevating clitoral blood pressure to maintain clitoral erection. At the time of climax, they contract rhythmically.  An orgasm would not be an orgasm without the contribution of these important muscles.

 

Bulbospongiosus-Female

Bulbocavernosus muscle (pelvic floor muscle that supports and compresses the clitoral bulbs)

 

Ischiocavernosus-female

Ischiocavernosus muscle (pelvic floor muscle that supports and compresses the clitoral legs)

(Above two images are in public domain, originally from Gray’s Anatomy 1909)

During penetrative sexual intercourse, only a small percentage of women achieve enough direct clitoral stimulation to achieve a “clitoral” orgasm, as this is usually restricted to women with larger clitoral head sizes and shorter distances from the clitoris to the vagina. Depending on sexual position and angulation of penetration, the penis is capable of directly stimulating the clitoral head and shaft, typically in the missionary position when there is direct pubic bone to pubic bone contact. However, vaginal penetration and penile thrusting does directly stimulate the clitoral legs and bulbs and the thrusting motion can also put rhythmic traction on the labia, which can result in the clitoris getting pulled and massaged.

Interesting trivia: Magnetic resonance (MR) studies have shown that a larger clitoral head size and shorter distance from the clitoris to the vagina are correlated with an easier ability to achieve an orgasm.

The clitoris plays a key role in achieving orgasm for the majority of women. An estimated 70% of women require clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm. Some women require direct clitoral stimulation, while for others indirect stimulation is sufficient. Only about 25% of women are capable of achieving orgasm via vaginal intercourse alone.

With increasing sexual arousal and stimulation, physical tension within the genitals gradually builds and once sufficient intensity and duration of sexual stimulation surpasses a threshold, involuntary rhythmic muscular contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, the vagina, uterus and anus occur, followed by the release of accumulated erotic tension and a euphoric state. Thereafter, the genital and clitoral engorgement and congestion subside, muscle relaxation occurs and a peaceful state of physical and emotional bliss and afterglow become apparent.

Clitoral orgasms are often described as a gradual buildup of sensation in the clitoral region culminating in intense waves of external muscle spasm and release. In contrast, vaginal orgasms are described as slower, fuller, wider, deeper, more expansive and complex, whole body sensations. The truth of the matter is that all lady parts are inter-connected and work together, so grouping orgasm into “clitoral” versus “vaginal” is an arbitrary distinction. Most women report that both clitoral and vaginal stimulation play roles in achieving sexual climax, but since the clitoris has the greatest density of nerves, is easily accessible and typically responds readily to stimulation, is the fastest track to sexual climax for most women.

There is a clitoral literacy movement that is gaining momentum. Please visit:

http://projects.huffingtonpost.com/cliteracy for more information on the clitoris and this campaign to foster awareness of this curious organ.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com (much of the material from this entry was excerpted from this book)