Leaking Havoc: Female Stress Urinary Incontinence

February 25, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/25/17

*Credit for title “Leaking Havoc” goes to freelance writer Karen Gibbs who recently interviewed me for an article on this topic for New Jersey Family Magazine.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a very common condition that affects one in three women during their lifetimes, most often young or middle-aged, although it can happen at any age. An involuntary spurt of urine occurs during sudden increases in abdominal pressure, which can happen with coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or exercise. It can even happen with walking, changing position from sitting to standing, or during sex.

7. SUI

Illustration above of stress urinary incontinence, by Ashley Halsey from Dr. Siegel’s book : “The Kegel Fix”

In Europe, SUI is referred to as “exertion” incontinence, since some form of physical effort usually triggers it. This is less confusing than the American term “stress” incontinence since the word stress is most typically used in the context of emotional stress–but here I am referring to only the physical stress of a sneeze, jump, etc.

Who Knew? The triggers that most consistently provoke SUI are jumping up with a sudden stop as one’s feet touch down—jumping jacks, trampoline and jump rope.

 Who Knew? There are hereditary/racial differences in the prevalence of SUI with SUI being less common in women of African-American descent and more common in Caucasian women, thought to be on the basis of genetic differences in pelvic muscle bulk.

SUI most often occurs because the support to the urethra (the urinary channel that goes from the bladder out)—the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues—has weakened and no longer provides an adequate “backboard” to the urethra. This allows the urethra to be pushed down and out of position at times of sudden increases in abdominal pressure, a condition known as urethral hyper-mobility.

The key inciting factors for SUI are pregnancy, labor and delivery, particularly traumatic vaginal deliveries of large babies. SUI is uncommon in women who have not delivered vaginally or in women who have delivered by elective Caesarian section (a C-section without experiencing labor). However, emergency C-section done for failure of labor to progress has a similar risk for SUI as vaginal delivery.

Many women experience SUI during pregnancy. By their third month of pregnancy, 20% of women report SUI, as do 50% at full term. There are many reasons for its occurrence, including the pressure of the enlarging uterus on the bladder and stretching of the pelvic floor muscles and other connective tissues.

Who Knew? After giving birth to your newborn, in addition to buying diapers for your baby you may have to buy them for yourself!

Who Knew? The more vaginal deliveries one has, the greater the likelihood of developing SUI.

Who Knew? Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels) in facilitating an early return of urinary control and improving the severity of SUI.

Some women experience persistent SUI after childbirth, while others find that it improves dramatically and resolves within 6 months. Others will not experience SUI until many years after childbirth, after promoting factors have kicked in. These factors include obesity, aging, menopause, weight gain, gynecological surgery (especially hysterectomy), and any condition that increases abdominal pressure. These include coughing (often from smoking), asthma, weight training and high impact sports (e.g., trampoline, gymnastics, pole vaulting, etc.) and occupations that require heavy physical labor. Chronic constipation is a major contributory factor because of pushing and straining on a daily basis, cumulatively causing the same weakening of urethral support as happens with obstetrical labor.

Who Knew? SUI is common in recreational as well as elite female athletes, particularly those who participate in high impact sports involving jumping. It can lead to poor athletic performance and ultimately avoiding sports participation.

The specific activities that provoke SUI and the severity of the leakage can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some only experience SUI with extreme exertion, such as when serving a tennis ball, swinging a golf club or with a powerful sneeze. Others experience SUI with minimal exertion such as walking or turning over in bed. Some women do not wear any protective pads or liners, changing their panties as necessary, whereas others wear many pads per day. Some are significantly bothered by even a minor degree of SUI, while others are accepting of experiencing many episodes of SUI daily.

Although the predominant cause of SUI is inadequate urethral support, it may also be caused by a weakened or damaged urethra itself. Risk factors for this are menopause, pelvic surgery, injury to the urethral nerve supply, radiation, and pelvic trauma. Such a severely compromised urethra usually causes significant urinary leakage with minimal activities and also results in “gravitational” incontinence, a profound urinary leakage that accompanies positional change.

Genuine SUI needs to be distinguished from other conditions that cause leakage of urine with increases in abdominal pressure that are not on the basis of inadequate urethral support or a weakened urethra. These other conditions can masquerade as genuine SUI. It is critical to distinguish between them since the treatments are very different. This is one reason why a thorough evaluation of SUI is important. The conditions that can masquerade as genuine SUI include: failure to empty the bladder; urethral diverticulum; vaginal voiding; and stress-induced involuntary bladder contraction.

Failure to empty the bladder can occur for a variety of reasons, including blockage of outflow of urine and an underactive bladder that contracts poorly. When the bladder is constantly full, it is easy to understand why a sudden increase in abdominal pressure can provoke leakage.

Who Knew? An extension of this is that if your bladder is full and you leak a small amount with jumping or laughing, it is not necessarily problematic, but just means that you need to urinate before engaging in such activities.

Urethral diverticulum is a small sac-like out-pouching from the urethra that can fill up with urine and leak during physical activities. The treatment is often surgical repair.

Vaginal voiding occurs in a small percentage of women who have an anatomical variation in which their urethral openings are internally recessed as opposed to the normal external urethral opening on the vestibule, immediately above the vaginal opening. When urinating, some of the urine pools in the vagina. Upon standing and physical exertion, the urine can then leak out of the vagina.

Stress-induced involuntary bladder contraction is a condition in which an involuntary contraction of the bladder (the bladder squeezing without its owner’s permission) is triggered by a maneuver that typically causes SUI. For example, a cough induces an involuntary bladder contraction, causing urinary leakage.

…To be continued next week when I will review how to diagnose and treat SUI.

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 this book, written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.

Prostate Arterial Embolization To Treat Prostate Enlargement

February 18, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/18/17

Note: Today’s entry was supposed to be on the topic of female stress incontinence, but this very interesting prostate topic presented itself to me, so the female incontinence entries will be continued next week.

Benign prostate enlargement (BPH) is a common condition of the middle-aged and older male in which the enlarging prostate gland obstructs urinary flow. It causes a number of annoying lower urinary tract symptoms, including a hesitant, weak and intermittent stream, prolonged emptying time, incomplete emptying, frequent urinating, urgency, nighttime urinating, and at times, urinary leakage. 

There are numerous treatment options available and one of the newest minimally invasive options is “super-selective prostate artery embolization”—a.k.a. “PAE”—a  procedure that is done by an interventional radiologist (a specialist x-ray doctor who does internal procedures without using conventional surgical techniques).  The blood supply to the prostate is purposely blocked (embolized) using micro-particles that are injected into one or more of the arteries to the prostate.  As a result of this embolization of the prostate artery, the part of the prostate served by the artery shrinks, opening up the obstructed urinary channel and improving the lower urinary tract symptoms.

Urinary difficulties attributable to BPH are commonly quantified using the International Prostatic Symptom Score (IPSS), a questionnaire consisting of seven symptom categories, with a range of increasingly severe symptom scores from 0 through 35. The score is based on the severity of each of the following lower urinary symptoms: hesitancy, decreased urinary stream, intermittency, sensation of incomplete emptying, nighttime urination, frequency, and urgency. The questionnaire responses are graded, with each of the seven symptom categories contributing a maximum of 5 points, for a total possible score of 35. Symptoms can be ranked as mild (0–7), moderate (8–19), and severe (20–35).  This IPSS is a useful metric both before and after a procedure like PAE, in order to document clinical symptomatic improvement.

Before pursuing PAE, a CT angiogram of the prostate is performed to determine prostate arterial anatomy, to help plan the PAE and to exclude patients with severe arterial disease or anatomic variations that will not allow PAE to be a consideration. Prior to pursuing a PAE procedure, it is vital to check PSA, perform a digital rectal examination and rule out prostate cancer.

 Technique of PAE

The PAE procedure takes place in the radiology department of the hospital under the supervision of the interventional radiologist. The femoral artery (thigh artery) is cannulated and by using an injection of contrast, the arterial supply to the prostate gland is identified. The prostate artery most commonly branches off the internal pudendal artery. Embolization of the anterolateral prostate artery, the main blood supply to the benign prostate growth, is attempted on both sides. The most challenging aspect is to identify and catheterize the tiny prostate arteries that are often only 1-2 mm in diameter.  Micro-particles (polyvinyl alcohol, trisacryl gelatin microspheres or other synthetic biocompatible materials) are injected into the prostate arteries to purposely compromise blood flow and cause partial necrosis (death of prostate cells) and shrinkage. After the embolization on one side, an angiogram (x-ray of pelvic arterial anatomy) is done before the sequence is repeated on the other side.

img_2064

Because of variation in prostate arterial anatomy and the types of micro-particles used, the extent of necrosis and shrinkage of the prostate is quite variable. Furthermore, prostate volume reduction does not precisely correlate with symptom improvement.  Although ideally performed on both sides, when done only on one side (left or right prostate artery) it still results in improvement of symptoms without as significant a reduction in prostate volume.

Although clinical improvement in urinary symptoms is less predictable after PAE as compared to standard treatments including surgical removal or laser treatment of the obstructing part of the prostate, the PAE has numerous points in its favor. Advantages of this new procedure are avoidance of general anesthesia and surgery an preservation of ejaculation, as opposed to surgical treatments of BPH, which commonly cause retrograde ejaculation (ejaculating backwards into the bladder with semen following the path of least resistance).  The PAE procedure is ideal for the older male with symptomatic BPH and significant prostate enlargement who for one of a variety of reasons is not a good candidate for conventional surgery.

Side effects of the PAE include urethral burning, fever, nausea and vomiting and perineal pain from prostate ischemia (damage to the blood supply), short-term inability to urinate as well as the radiation exposure necessary to perform the procedure.

Bottom Line:  Growing evidence supports the use of prostate arterial embolization to treat benign prostate enlargement.  Selectively occluding the prostate arterial supply results in damage to the prostate blood supply and ischemic necrosis (prostate tissue death) with reduction in the volume of the prostate gland with improvement in symptoms.  Safe and effective, it is a promising minimally invasive option that is an attractive alternative to surgery for symptomatic patients with large prostates and concomitant medical problems who have failed to respond well to pharmacological treatments.

 Dr. John DeMeritt is an interventional radiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey, who has particular expertise and experience in PAE.  He reported the first case study of PAE in the USA, has conducted numerous studies on the topic as well as written several medical journal articles and has been interviewed on the subject by Dr. Max Gomez on CBS news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdV8ZxtLqZU

Thank you to Dr. DeMeritt for provided me with information on the subject matter, both verbally and in the form of several excellent articles, including his original case report.  He also provided me with the PAE image.

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

 

Female Bladder Works

February 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   2/11/17

This entry is a brief overview of bladder anatomy and function to help you better understand the two most common forms of urinary leakage—stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder— topics for entries that will follow for the next few weeks.  Having a working knowledge of the properties of the bladder will serve you well in being able to understand when things go awry. 

                          6. bladder

                             Drawing of the bladder and urethra by Ashley Halsey from “The Kegel Fix:                           Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health”

The bladder is a muscular balloon that has two functions—storage and emptying of urine. The stem of the bladder balloon is the urethra, the tube that conducts urine from the bladder during urination and helps store urine at all other times. The urethra runs from the bladder neck (where the urinary bladder and urethra join) to the urethral meatus, the external opening located just above the vagina.

Bladder Control Issues—More Than Just a Physical Problem

Urinary incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine. Although not life threatening, it can be life altering and life disrupting. Many resort to absorbent pads to help deal with this debilitating, yet manageable problem. It is more than just a medical problem, often affecting emotional, psychological, social and financial wellbeing (the cumulative cost of pads can be significant). Many are reluctant to participate in activities that provoke the incontinence, resulting in social isolation, loss of self-esteem and, at times, depression. Since exercise is a common trigger, many avoid it, which can lead to weight gain and a decline in fitness. Sufferers often feel “imprisoned” by their bladders, which have taken control over their lives, impacting not only activities, but also clothing choices, travel plans and relationships.

Bladder Function 101

Healthy bladder functioning depends upon properties of the bladder and urethra. Bladder control issues arise when one or more of these go awry:

Capacity

The average adult has a bladder that holds about 12 ounces before a significant urge to urinate occurs. Problem: The most common capacity issue is when the capacity is too small, causing urinary frequency.

Elasticity

The bladder is stretchy like a balloon and as it fills up there is a minimal increase in bladder pressure because of this expansion. Low-pressure storage is desirable, as the less pressure in the bladder, the less likelihood for leakage issues. Problem: The bladder is inelastic or less elastic and stores urine at high pressures, a setup for urinary leakage.

Sensation

There is an increasing feeling of urgency as the urine volume in the bladder increases. Problem: The most common sensation issue is heightened sensation creating a sense of urgency before the bladder is full, giving rise to the frequent need to urinate. Less commonly there exists a situation in which there is little to no sensation even when the bladder is quite full (and little warning that the bladder is full), sometimes causing the bladder to overflow.

Contractility

After the bladder fills and the desire to urinate is sensed, a voluntary bladder contraction occurs, which increases the pressure within the bladder in order to generate the power to urinate. Problem: The bladder is “under-active” and cannot generate enough pressure to empty effectively, which may cause it to overflow when large volumes of urine remain in the bladder.

Timing

A bladder contraction should only occur after the bladder is reasonably full and the “owner” of the bladder makes a conscious decision to empty the bladder. Problem: The bladder is “overactive” and squeezes prematurely (involuntary bladder contraction) causing sudden urgency with the possibility of urinary leakage occurring en route to the bathroom.

Anatomical Position

The bladder and urethra are maintained in proper anatomical position in the pelvis because of the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue support. Problem: A weakened support system can cause urinary leakage with sudden increases in abdominal pressure, such as occurs with sneezing, coughing and/or exercising.

Urethra

In cross-section, the urethra has infoldings of its inner layer that give it a “snowflake” appearance. This inner layer is surrounded by rich spongy tissue containing an abundance of blood vessels, creating a cushion around the urethra that permits a watertight seal similar to a washer in a sink. The female hormone estrogen nourishes the urethra and helps maintain the seal. Problem: With declining levels of estrogen at the time of menopause, the urethra loses tone and suppleness, analogous to a washer in a sink becoming brittle, potentially causing leakage issues.

Sphincters

The urinary sphincters, located at the bladder neck and mid-urethra, are specialized muscles that provide urinary control by pinching the urethra closed during storage and allowing the urethra to open during emptying. The main sphincter (a.k.a. the internal sphincter) is located at the bladder neck and is composed of smooth muscle designed for involuntary, sustained control. The auxiliary sphincter (a.k.a. the external sphincter), located further downstream and comprised of skeletal muscle contributed to by the pelvic floor muscles, is designed for voluntary, emergency control. Problem: Damage to or weakness of the sphincters adversely affects urinary control.

The main sphincter is similar to the brakes of a car—frequently used, efficient and effective. The auxiliary sphincter is similar to the emergency brake—much less frequently used, less efficient, but effective in a pinch. The pelvic floor muscles are intimately involved with the function of the “emergency brake.”

Nerves

The seemingly “simple” act of urination is actually a highly complex event requiring a functional nervous system providing sensation of filling, contraction of the bladder muscle and the coordinated relaxation of the sphincters. Problem: Any neurological problem can adversely affect urination, causing bladder control issues.

Bladder Reflexes

A reflex is an automatic response to a stimulus, an action that occurs without conscious thought. There are three reflexes that are vital to bladder control:

Guarding Reflex: During bladder filling, the “guarding” (against leakage) pelvic floor muscles contract in increasing magnitude in proportion to the volume of urine in the bladder; this provides resistance that helps prevent leakage as the bladder becomes fuller.

Cough Reflex: With a cough, there is a reflex contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, which helps prevent leakage with sudden increases in abdominal pressure.

Pelvic Floor Muscle-Bladder Reflex: When the pelvic floor muscles are voluntarily contracted, there is a reflex relaxation of the bladder. This powerful reflex can be tapped into for those who have involuntary bladder contractions that cause urgency and urgency leakage.

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. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health: http://www.TheKegelFix.com

He is also the author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Penis Stretching (Traction Therapy): What You Should Know

February 4, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/4 /17

“Tissue expansion” is a well-accepted concept employed in several medical disciplines for the purpose of gradually expanding specific anatomical parts, most commonly used in plastic and reconstructive surgery.  Traction therapy—a.k.a. mechanical transduction—involves the application of pulling forces to tissues in order to incrementally expand them.  The traction ultimately leads to cellular proliferation and formation of new collagen. Successful tissue expansion mandates adequate pulling forces with sufficient time of traction application and treatment duration. Traction so applied to body parts for extended periods of time will result in gradual lengthening and expansion, and the penis is no exception.

traction

Image above: Two nursing sisters erect traction apparatus for a patient’s leg in the Orthopaedic Ward of No. 2 RAF General Hospital in Algiers, 1944-1945

http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//52/media-52315/large.jpg

 

Penile traction is capable of lengthening or straightening the penis using mechanical pulling forces. It has become an increasingly popular option based upon its relative noninvasive nature, the side effects associated with alternative treatments, and the general difficulties in managing conditions that result in penile shortening. The biophysics of penile traction involves mechanical forces and stresses that are capable of positively affecting cellular and tissue growth.

Penile traction therapy has potential clinical use in a number of urological circumstances, including for purposes of penile lengthening, as primary management of Peyronie’s disease, as an secondary treatment after other forms of management for Peyronies (including the injection of medications into Peyronie’s scar tissue and surgery for Peyronies), and finally, prior to penile prosthesis implant surgery to optimize penile length at the time of the implantation. Penile traction necessitates a compliant patient willing to devote the time and effort to the relatively long treatment period required for effective lengthening.

For more information on Peyronie’s disease, refer to my previous blog entry: https://healthdoc13.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/peyronies-disease-not-the-kind-of-curve-you-want/

Situations That May Benefit From Penile Traction

  • Small penis stature
  • Penile dysmorphic disorder: a preoccupation with penis size, often related to the subjective perception of small penis size that has no objective basis
  • Penile shortening due to radical prostatectomy
  • Penile shortening and angulation due to Peyronie’s disease
  • Peyronie’s patients who have had injection therapy with medications (collagenase, verapamil, interferon, etc.) or surgery for Peyronie’s, as adjunctive treatment to optimize results
  • Prior to inflatable penile implantation to enable implantation of the largest possible prosthesis

 What Are The Commercially Available Penile Traction Devices?

  • FastSize Penile Extender (FastSize Medical, Aliso Viejo, CA)
  • Andro-Penis (Andromedical, Madrid, Spain)
  • Golden Erect Extender (Ronas Tajhiz Teb, Tehran, Iran)
  • SizeGenetics (GRT Net Services Inc., Gresham, OR)
  • Vimax Extender (OA Internet Services, Montreal, Canada)
  • ProExtender (Leading Edge Herbals, Greeley, CO)
  • PenimasterPro (MSP Concept, Berlin, Germany)

All of the aforementioned devices are similar in principle. For specific information on any product, a Google search will provide detailed information on each product and exactly how it is used.

The most sophisticated and best-engineered device is the PenimasterPro. For more information on this device: https://www.penimaster.com   (Available through www.urologyhealthstore.com use code “Urology 10” for 10% discount and free shipping.)

slider2-1

Image above: PenimasterPro

Bottom Line: Penile traction is a minimally invasive, relatively new option for managing conditions associated with shortened penile length. Studies have demonstrated the ability of traction therapy to modestly increase penile length without changing girth. It is capable of improving the penile curvature and shortening associated with Peyronie’s disease, particularly when initiated early during the acute phase, as well as following surgery or injection therapy. It also has utility in optimizing penile length prior to penile implant surgery and for the management of any condition causing penile shortening. It does require a dedicated and compliant user willing to wear the traction device for extended periods of time in order to achieve satisfactory lengthening. 

Resources for this entry:

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

Penile Traction Therapy for Peyronie’s Disease: What’s the Evidence? MF Usta and T Ipeckci: Transational Andrology and Urology 2016; 5(3):303-309

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

 

 

 

Male Sexual Enhancement Supplements: Don’t Waste Your Money

January 28, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  1/28/17

During my urology clinic hours at least one patient a day–if not more–shows me a recently purchased bottle of herbal supplements slated as beneficial for “sexual health.”  The composition of these products often includes one or more of the following: arginine, ginko biloba, horny goat weed, maca, yohimbine, etc. After I have had a chance to look at the product and its ingredients the following question is typically posed: “Any good, doc?”  I often reply with: “Don’t waste your money, you’re getting stiffed.”  (Pun intended.)

snake-oil

Image above from Wikipedia Commons, public domain

 

The male herbal enhancement business is billion dollar in scale, one that preys upon the desperation of men willing do anything to improve/enhance the dimensions of their penis and sexual function. Unfortunately, many men believe erroneously that supplements are natural and innocuous solutions to an array of sexual issues. The truth of the matter is that most sexual enhancement products are ineffective and make false claims. Of those that do have some beneficial effects, many contain small amounts of the chemicals used in legitimate ED medications without that being indicated on the label. The problem is that the quantity of added Viagra, Cialis, etc., is unknown and the origin a mystery, often counterfeit and/or produced in unregistered and unregulated labs. An additional problem is that the presence of these legitimate medicines in the herbal product makes the supplement dangerous to a segment of the population in which their usage is contraindicated.

Because these products are “supplements,” they are not under the domain of the FDA and therefore not subject to the regulation and scrutiny normally directed towards FDA approved pharmaceutical products. Furthermore, when a problem surfaces with one of these herbal products, the FDA will do no more than issue consumer alerts and request a voluntary recall.

Bottom Line: When it comes to male sexual enhancement supplements, save your resources, which would be much better spent elsewhere. Now that there is a generic 20 mg formulation of Viagra available (Sildenafil), you can get “stiff” without being “stiffed.” See your urologist for an ED consultation instead of heading to the Internet or convenience store to hunt for ineffective herbal products that are often tainted and contaminated.

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

Testosterone Update 2017: Untangling The Web

January 21, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD   1/21/17

Testosterone deficiency (TD) is a not uncommon male medical condition marked by characteristic symptoms and physical findings in the face of low levels or low activity of testosterone (T). TD is most often seen in men above the age of 50 years and is a frequent reason for why men make appointments with urologists.

t

What are the 3 best predictors of TD?

1. Decreased sex drive

2. Erectile dysfunction (ED)

3. Decreased frequency of morning erections

T is a hormone that is essential to male vitality. TD can affect the function of many different organ systems and negatively impact one’s quality of life. Its signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Since T regulates the male sexual response—including desire, arousal, erections, ejaculation and orgasm—sexual dysfunction is a common component of TD and is often the presenting symptom. Low T can give rise to diminished libido, altered penile rigidity, decreased morning and nocturnal erections, decreased ejaculate volume and has been associated with delayed ejaculation. Other common symptoms are decreased energy and vigor, fatigue, muscle weakness, increased body fat, depression and impaired concentration and cognitive ability. Common signs are weight gain, visceral obesity (increased waist circumference), decreased muscle mass and bone density, decreased body and pubic hair, gynecomastia (male breast development) and anemia.

TD is often seen in men with chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, HIV infection, opioid drug abuse, and chronic steroid usage.

Why does TD occur?

TD can result from a problem with the ability of the testes to produce T, or alternatively, because of an issue with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland in which there is inadequate production of the hormones that trigger testes production of T. At times there is adequate T, but impairment of T action because of inability of T to bind to the appropriate receptors. Additionally, increased levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a molecule that binds T, can result in decreased levels of “available” T despite normal T levels.

Not an Exact Science

It is important to note that not everybody who has a low T level will have characteristic signs and symptoms and also that it is possible to have signs and symptoms of TD with a normal T level.

 Checking for TD should be done under the circumstance of a male complaining of any of the aforementioned symptoms and signs. Shortcomings of measuring T levels are results that can vary from laboratory to laboratory, a lack of a consistent and clinically relevant reference range for T, the variability of T levels depending on time of day that levels are drawn (values are highest in the early morning) and the fact that it is the free T and not the total T (TT) that is “available” to most tissues. T circulates in the blood mainly bound to proteins (SHBG and albumin). It is free T and albumin-bound T that are tissue “available” and active.

If TT and/or free T are low, the levels of the pituitary hormones luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (P) levels should be obtained to distinguish between a pituitary versus a testes issue. Symptomatic men with a TT < 350 are candidates for treatment. A 3-6 month trial of treatment may also be considered in men with symptoms and signs, but without definitive TD on lab testing since there is no absolute T level that will reliably distinguish who will or will not respond to treatment.

T and Prostate Cancer

Although testosterone deprivation has proven effective in treating advanced prostate cancer, there is no evidence to support that treatment of TD with T will increase the risk of prostate cancer. Studies indicate that if T < 250, increasing levels of T will stimulate prostate growth, but once T > 250, a saturation point (threshold) is reached with further increases in T causing little or no additional prostate growth.

T and Cardiac Disease

 A broad review of many articles fails to support the view that T use is associated with cardiovascular risks. In fact, the weight of evidence suggests that treating TD offers cardiovascular benefits.

T and Fertility

T causes impaired sperm production as T is a natural contraception and T replacement should not be used in men desiring to initiate a pregnancy.

TD Treatment

There are numerous different means of T treatment. T pills are not a satisfactory option since testosterone is inactivated in its pass through the liver. There is a buccal formulation that is placed and absorbed between the gum and cheek. There are numerous skin formulations including patches and gels. These skin formulations are commonly used, but are expensive, carry the risk of transference to children, spouses, and pets, and can cause skin irritation. They have the advantage of flexible dosing, easy administration, and immediate decrease in T levels after stopping treatment. Long-acting T pellets can be implanted in the fatty tissue of the buttocks, generally effective for 3 to 4 months or so. The insurance hoops that are required to get this formulation approved and covered have proven to be a major challenge. T injections are also commonly used, typically using a slowly absorbed “depot” injection that, depending on the dosage, can last 1-3 weeks. There is also a very long-acting formulation that, like the T pellets, requires a very taxing process to gain insurance approval.

As an alternative to T replacement, clomiphene citrate is a selective estrogen receptor modulator that when taken on a daily basis will increase both testosterone levels and sperm count by stimulating natural testes production. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can be used as well. Advantages are that they stimulate natural testosterone production and do not impair sperm count.

Adverse Effects of T Treatment

Careful monitoring is imperative for anybody on T treatment. T levels must be checked in order to assure levels in the proper range. Prostate exams and PSA levels are used to monitor the prostate gland and a periodic blood count is performed to ensure that one’s red blood cell count does not becoming too elevated, which can incur the risk of developing blood clots.

It is important to understand that external T will suppress whatever natural T is being made by the testes, since the body recognizes the T and the testes loses its stimulation to produce both T and sperm. Long term T use can cause atrophy (shrinkage) of the testes.

Ongoing Treatment

Those patients who are experiencing benefits of T treatment can have periodic “holidays” of discontinuation to reassess the continued need for the treatment.

Excellent resource: Diagnosis And Treatment Of Testosterone Deficiency: Recommendations From The Fourth International Consultation For Sexual Medicine, Journal of Sexual Medicine 2016; 13:1787 – 1804

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

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful

January 14, 2017

Andrew Siegel  MD    1/14/2016

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The vagina and vulva of a young healthy adult has a different appearance (as well as functional ability) than that of a female after menopause. After menopause—with its dramatic reduction in estrogen production—the female genital tissues no longer have the availability of the hormone that keeps the genital tissues vital.  Age-related changes of the vulva and vagina occur on the basis of the ravages of time and lack of estrogen-stimulation following menopause. The vagina becomes thinner, dryer, and less elastic with diminished length and width, lubrication potential and expansive ability.  This can give rise to symptoms including vaginal dryness, irritation, burning with urination and pain and bleeding with sexual intercourse. All in all this adds up to diminished quality of life.

Menopause is a significant risk factor for the occurrence of anatomical and functional changes that result from reduced levels of the female hormone estrogen. The vestibule (plate of tissue upon which open the vagina and urethra), vagina, urethra and base of the urinary bladder have abundant estrogen receptors that are no longer stimulated, resulting in diminished tissue elasticity and integrity. The labia become less robust, the vaginal opening retracts and the vaginal walls thin and lose the “tread”(rugae) that is typical of youth. The skin of the vulva becomes paler, thinner and more fragile. Because of this array of changes, the aging vagina can have difficulty lubricating and in accommodating a penis, resulting in painful sexual intercourse, a situation that affects more than two-thirds of post-menopausal women.

Often accompanying the physical changes of menopause are diminished sexual desire, arousal and ability to achieve orgasm. Pain, burning, itching and irritation of the vulva and vagina—particularly after sexual intercourse—are common. Urinary changes include burning with urination, frequency and urgency and recurrent urinary infections. Prior to menopause, healthy bacteria reside in the vagina. After menopause, this vaginal bacterial ecosystem changes, which can predispose one to urinary tract infections.

Considering that nature’s ultimate “purpose” of sex is for reproduction, perhaps it is not surprising that when the body is no longer capable of producing offspring, changes occur that affect the anatomy and function of the sexual apparatus.

The aging vagina was at one time referred to with disparaging terms including “atrophic vaginitis,” “vulvar and vaginal atrophy,” and “senile atrophy.” There are many such hurtful and cruel labels for female issues, including “frigid” for women who have difficulty in achieving sexual climax as opposed to the clinical term “anorgasmic.” A much kinder, although technical term for the aging vagina is “genitourinary syndrome of menopause” (GSM).

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful:

  1. Stay Sexually Active Regular sexual activity is vital for maintaining the ability to have ongoing satisfactory sexual intercourse. Vaginal penetration increases pelvic and vaginal blood flow, which optimizes lubrication and elasticity. Orgasms tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support vaginal function. “Use it or lose it” is the rule.  Be sure to use plenty of lubrication if vaginal dryness is an issue.
  1. Pelvic Floor Exercises   Pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to sexual, urinary and bowel function as well as the support of the pelvic organs. Numerous scientific studies have documented the benefits of pelvic exercises (Kegels) to help maintain pelvic blood flow, sexual function, pelvic support and urinary/bowel control. The pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to all aspects of sexual function, including arousal, lubrication, clitoral and vulvar engorgement and sexual climax.
  1. Consider Topical Estrogen Replacement   This is a means of achieving the advantages that estrogen provides to the genital issues using a cream formulation that is applied locally. There is minimal absorption and it therefore avoids the vast majority of adverse effects that can occur from oral hormone replacement therapy. A small dab of Premarin or Estrace cream placed in the vagina three or four nights per week prior to sleep can restore vaginal suppleness and increase tissue integrity. This will help improve lubrication, pain with intercourse, urinary control issues and can help prevent urinary infections.
  1. See Your Gynecologist   You bring your car in for annual preventive maintenance to a mechanic, so do the same for your lady parts.! Your gynecologist is on your team with a goal of keeping you and your vagina healthy. Gynecologists have some new tools at their disposal to combat GSM, including lasers that can be applied to the vestibule for purposes of skin resurfacing and restoration.
  1. Healthy Lifestyle   It is desirable to keep every cell and tissue in your body healthy via intelligent lifestyle choices. These include: smart eating habits; maintaining a healthy weight; engaging in exercise; obtaining adequate sleep; consuming alcohol in moderation; avoiding tobacco; and stress reduction.
  1. Avoid Excessive Time In The Saddle Bicycle riding, as well as any other activity that places prolonged pressure on the “saddle” of the body (including motorcycle, moped, and horseback riding), are potential causes of impaired genital function. Although this is rarely a problem for the casual or recreational cyclist, it can be a real issue for women who spend many hours weekly in the saddle. When cycling, intense pressure is applied to the perineum (area between vulva and anus), the area of the body that can be considered to be “the heart” of the blood and nerve supply to the vagina and pelvic floor muscles.

Bottom Line: All things eventually get old, including vaginas and vulvas. We are not in control of the aging process and sooner or later Father Time reigns supreme. However, by adhering to some commonsense advice you can maintain vaginal youth and vitality for many years.

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 Female Love Muscles

January 7, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD 1/7/16

Optimal muscle functioning is integral to sexual activity. There would be no “jump” in the term “jump one’s bones” without fit muscles that permit the coordinated movements and muscle contractions that are necessary to engage in sexual coupling.

The following is a short poem I have composed about the muscles of love:

 Limber hip rotators,

A powerful cardio-core,

But forget not

The oft neglected pelvic floor.

Sex is a physical activity involving numerous muscles that coordinate with seamless efficiency. Sexual activity demands movement, a synchronized kinetic chain integrating core muscles and external hip rotators in which both pelvic thrusting and outward rotation of the hips work effectively together to forge a choreographed motion. It is a given that cardiac (aerobic) conditioning is a prerequisite for any endurance athletic endeavor, including SEX-ercise.

Three muscle groups are vital for optimal sexual function—core muscles, which maintain stability and provide a solid platform to enable pelvic thrusting; external hip rotators, which rotate the thighs outward and are the motor behind pelvic thrusting; and the floor of the core muscles—pelvic floor muscles (PFM), which provide pelvic tone and support, permit tightening and relaxing of the vagina, support clitoral erection, and contract rhythmically at the time of climax. When these three groups of muscles are in tiptop shape, sexual function is optimized.

The core muscles are a cylinder of torso muscles that surround the innermost layer of the abdomen. They function as an internal corset and shock absorber. In Pilates they are aptly referred to as the “powerhouse,” providing stability, alignment and balance, but also allowing the extremity muscles a springboard from which to push off and work effectively. It is impossible to use your limbs without engaging a solid core and, likewise, it is not possible to use your genitals effectively during sex without engaging the core muscles.

Who Knew? According to the book “The Coregasm Workout,” 10% of women are capable of achieving sexual climax while doing core exercises. It most often occurs when challenging core exercises are pursued immediately after cardio exercises, resulting in core muscle fatigue. 

Rotation of your hips is a vital element of sexual movement. The external rotators are a group of muscles responsible for lateral (side) rotation of your femur (thigh) bone in the hip joint. My medical school anatomy professor referred to this group of muscles as the “muscles of copulation.” Included in this group are the powerful gluteal muscles of your buttocks.

Who Knew? Not only do your gluteal muscles give your bottom a nice shape, but they also are vital for pelvic thrusting power.

The PFM make up the floor of the core. The deep layer is the levator ani (“lift anus”), consisting of the pubococcygeus, puborectalis, and iliococcygeus muscles. These muscles stretch from pubic bone to tailbone, encircling the base of the vagina, the urethra and the rectum. The superficial layer is the bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, transverse perineal muscles and the anal sphincter muscle.

The following two illustrations are by Ashley Halsey from The Kegel Fix:

2.deep PFM 3. superficial and deep PFM

The PFM are critical to sexual function. The other core muscles and hip rotators are important with respect to the movements required for sexual intercourse, but the PFM are unique as they directly involve the genitals. During arousal they 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 PFM enable tightening the vagina at will and function to compress the deep roots of the clitoris, elevating blood pressure within the clitoris to maintain clitoral erection. An orgasm would not be an orgasm without the contribution of PFM contractions.

Who Knew? Pilates—emphasizing core strength, stability and flexibility—is a great source of PFM strength and endurance training. By increasing range of motion, loosening tight hips and spines and improving one’s ability to rock and gyrate the hips, Pilates is an ideal exercise for improving sexual function.

PFM Training to Enhance Sexual Function: The Ultimate Sex-ercise

The PFM are intimately involved with all aspects of sexuality from arousal to climax. They are highly responsive to sexual stimulation and react by contracting and increasing blood flow to the entire pelvic region, enhancing arousal. Upon clitoral stimulation, the PFM reflexively contract. When the PFM are voluntarily engaged, pelvic blood flow and sexual response are further intensified. During climax, the PFM contract involuntarily in a rhythmic fashion and provide the muscle power behind the physical aspect of an orgasm. The bottom line is that the pleasurable sensation that one perceives during sex is directly related to PFM function and weakened PFM are clearly associated with sexual and orgasmic dysfunction.

PFM training improves PFM awareness, strength, endurance, tone and flexibility and can enhance sexual function in women with desire, arousal, orgasm and pain issues, as well as in women without sexual issues. PFM training helps sculpt a fit and firm vagina, which can positively influence sexual arousal and help one achieve an orgasm. PFM training results in increased muscle mass and more powerful PFM contractions and better PFM stamina, heightening the capacity for enhancing orgasm intensity and experiencing more orgasms as well as increasing “his” pleasure. PFM training is an excellent means of counteracting the adverse sexual effects of obstetrical trauma. Furthermore, PFM training can help prevent sexual problems that may emerge in the future.  Tapping into and harnessing the energy of the PFM is capable of improving one’s sexual experience. If the core muscles are the “powerhouse” of the body, the PFM are the “powerhouse” of the vagina.

Bottom Line: Strong PFM = Strong climax. The PFM are more responsive when better toned and PFM training can revitalize the PFM and instill the capacity to activate the PFM with less effort. PFM training can lead to increased sexual desire, sensation, and sexual pleasure, intensify and produce more orgasms and help one become multi-orgasmic. Women capable of achieving “seismic” orgasms most often have very strong, toned, supple and flexible PFM. Having fit PFM in conjunction with the other core muscles and the external hip rotators translates to increased self-confidence.

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. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health: http://www.TheKegelFix.com

He is also the author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

 

 

10 Ways To Maintain Sexual Fitness

December 31, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  12/31/16

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(Thank you, Pixabay, for image above)

It is fundamental to understand that your genitals are not separate and independent entities, but part and parcel of your body as a whole. If your health is compromised by illness or poor lifestyle, you should not expect your penis or vagina to function any better than rest of your body, but in parallel with your general health. If you are overweight, “malnourished” on the basis of a poor diet, do not challenge your body with regular exercise, use tobacco, consume too much alcohol, are over-stressed, sleep deprived, etc., your sexual function will likely suffer in concordance with your general health. The bottom line is that general health drives genital health and that healthy sexual functioning is an excellent marker of general health.

 

Sex is a healthy and natural part of life.  A healthy sexual relationship is an important part of an overall healthy relationship, “cementing” the bond between those in the relationship.

Whether male or female, the concept of “sexual fitness” has recently come into vogue. The idea is that sexual health is related to overall health and that optimal functioning in the bedroom can only be achieved with an  healthy state of mind and body and that the root cause of declining sexual performance is  when general health is compromised.

Blood flow is our lifeline and defines our existence. The key to life is the unimpeded flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every cell and tissue in the body to maintain proper function.  Cardiovascular health is thus imperative for general and sexual health and when blood flow is jeopardized, both general health and sexual function will suffer.

Cardiovascular fitness is based upon maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a nutrient-rich diet (lean proteins, abundant fruit, vegetables, legumes and avoidance of nutrient-poor processed foods, excessive sugar and refined foods, etc.), daily activity and exercise (including aerobic, resistance, core and pelvic floor), avoiding excessive stress, getting sufficient sleep and avoidance of toxins including tobacco and excessive alcohol. Negative behaviors pursued on a chronic basis can sap one’s health and vitality that is critical to sexuality.

Our human ability to perform physically—in any domain—declines as we age, explaining why most professional athletes are in their twenties or thirties. Sexual function is no exception, with sexual response generally declining gradually over time, most often predicated upon impaired blood flow and altered function of the cells and tissues that comprise the genitals.

One option is to wait for your sex life to go south and then be “reactive,” incorporating healthy lifestyle measures in an effort to reverse the damage. A better approach is to be “proactive” with attention to the following ten recommendations.

10 Ways To Maintain Sexual Fitness

  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight  This will help prevent fatty deposits that clog up your blood vessels, including the arterial supply to the penis and vulva/vagina.
  1. Eat Healthy  The bottom line is that you want your body running on premium fuel. Nutritionally wholesome, natural foods will help prevent the build-up of harmful fatty deposits that compromise genital blood flow. Poor dietary choices with calorie-laden, nutritionally-empty selections (e.g., fast, processed, or refined foods) puts you on the fast tract to clogged arteries that can make your sexual function as small as your belly is big.
  1. Minimize Stress  Stress causes the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline narrows blood vessels, which has a negative effect on sexual response. Excessive cortisol secretion drives appetite and causes the accumulation of the bad belly fat (as opposed to fat under the skin).
  1. Eliminate Tobacco Tobacco contains nicotine and a cocktail of toxins that impairs blood flow and decreases the supply of oxygen, as well as promotes inflammation, compromising every organ in your body, including those vital for sexual function.
  1. Alcohol in Moderation  In small amounts, alcohol can alleviate anxiety and act as a vasodilator (increasing blood flow), but in large amounts it can be a major risk factor for sexual dysfunction. Everything in moderation!
  1. Sleep Tight  Sleeping has a critical restorative function. During this important downtime there is an increased rate of tissue growth and a decreased rate of tissue breakdown, vital for maintaining the integrity of our cells and tissues. Sleep deprivation causes a disruption in endocrine, metabolic, and immune function, resulting in increased appetite, increased cortisol, and higher amounts of sugar in the bloodstream. If you are exhausted, your genitals will be equally weary.
  1. Exercise   Exercise has a robust effect on sexual function through stress busting, mood improvement, fatigue reduction, increase of energy and better quality sleep. It reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, osteoporosis, chronic medical problems, and physical disability. It improves muscular strength and tone, reduces body fat and helps weight control. It makes your heart a better and stronger pump, your blood vessels more elastic, and your muscles better able to use oxygen. Exercises that work out the muscles involved in sex—the core muscles, the external rotators of the hip, and the all-important pelvic floor muscles—will improve bedroom performance. 
  1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises The pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to all aspects of sexual function, from arousal to climax. Numerous scientific studies have documented the benefits of pelvic exercises (Kegels) in improving sexual function.
  1. Stay Sexually Active   Keep your genitals fit by using them on a regular basis for the purpose they were designed for. In other words, stay sexually active as nature intended! Sexual activity is vital for maintaining the ability to have ongoing satisfactory sexual intercourse. Regular sexual activity increases pelvic and genital blood flow and optimizes tissue health and elasticity, while orgasms tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles“Disuse atrophy” is a condition when the genitals adapt to not being used, with tissue wasting, genital shrinkage and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. Use it or lose it!
  2. Maintain a Healthy Relationship.  It takes two to tango, so relationship harmony plays strongly into healthy sexual functioning just as discord and interpersonal issues profoundly contribute to sexual dysfunction.

Note that sexual intercourse in and of itself is a great form of general exercise because of the kinetics involved and the demands on the cardiovascular system, core, pelvic floor and other skeletal muscles. Of the “10 ways to maintain sexual fitness,” staying sexually active covers 6 of them (maintaining a healthy relationship, staying sexually active, pelvic floor exercises, general exercise, sleeping tight and minimizing stress).

Bottom Line: The “Golden Rule”: Treat your genitals kindly (in terms of a healthy lifestyle) and the favor will be returned; treat your genitals poorly and they will rebel. The proactive approach will keep you functioning smoothly for many years. General health and fitness will foster sexual health and fitness, and staying sexually active is a vital means of maintaining general health and fitness.

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

 

Erection “Destiny”

December 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  12/24/2016

Uninformed, uneducated and unprepared for the aging process, one has little choice but to passively observe and accept the gradual changes that unfold over time.  The purpose of this entry is to inform, educate and prepare you for the expectations of sexual function as you age.  Sadly, it is often not a pretty picture as aging can be unkind and Father Time does not spare sexual function.

Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is not inevitable, with each passing decade, more and more men join the ED club. All aspects of sexuality decline, although sexual interest suffers the least depreciation, leading to a swarm of men who are eager, but unable–a most frustrating combination. With aging there is typically less sexual activity, and with less sexual activity “disuse atrophy” in which the de-conditioned penis becomes smaller in stature and, in a vicious cycle, even less functional. The senior years also bear witness to the testicles dangling loosely like pendulous breasts of elderly women. Time and gravity are cruel conspirators.

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A Few Definitions

Erection: The rigid state of the penis under circumstances of sexual stimulation.

Destiny: What the future has in store for you.

Erection Destiny: What the future has in store for your erection capabilities.

What Might Be In Store In The Future

The general trends that follow are structured by decade. Individuals may vary significantly from others in their age group, as “chronological” age is not the ultimate factor and may be trumped by “functional” age.  This guide was crafted after many years spent in the urology trenches, working the front line with thousands of patient interactions.

Age 18-30: Your sexual appetite is prodigious and sex often occupies the front burners of your mind. It requires very little stimulation to achieve an erection—even the wind blowing the right way might be enough to stimulate a rigid, gravity-defying erection, pointing proudly at the heavens. The sight of an attractive woman, the scent of her perfume, merely the thought of her can fully arouse you. You get erections even when you don’t want them…if there was only a way to bank these for later in life! You wake up in the middle of the night sporting a rigid erection. When you climax, the orgasm is intense, forceful and powerful. When you arise from sleep, it is not just you that has arisen, but also your penis.

It doesn’t get better than this…you are an invincible king… a professional athlete at the peak of his career! All right, maybe not invincible…you do have an Achilles heel—you may sometimes ejaculate prematurely because you are so hyper-excitable and at times in a new sexual situation you have performance anxiety, a mechanical failure brought on by your all-powerful mind dooming the capabilities of your exceptional plumbing.

Age 30-40: Changes occur ever so slowly, perhaps so gradually that they are barely noticeable. Your sex drive remains vigorous, but not as obsessive and all consuming as it once was. You can still get quality erections, but they may not occur as spontaneously, as frequently and with such little provocation as they did previously. You may require some touch to develop full rigidity. You still wake up in the middle of the night with an erection and experience “morning wood.” Ejaculations and orgasms are hardy, but you may notice some subtle differences, with your “rifle” being a little less powerful and of smaller caliber. The time it takes to achieve another erection after ejaculating increases. You are that athlete in the twilight of his career, seasoned and experienced, with the premature ejaculation of yonder years occurring much less frequently.

Age 40-50: After age 40, changes become more obvious. You are still interested in sex, but not nearly with the passion you had two decades earlier. You can usually get a pretty good-quality erection, but it now often requires touch and the rock-star rigidity of years gone by gives way to a firm penis, still suitable for penetration. The gravity-defying erections don’t have quite the upward angle they used to. At times you may lose the erection before the sexual act is completed. You notice that orgasms have lost some of their kick and ejaculation has become feebler than previously. Getting a second erection after climax is not only more difficult, but also may be something that you no longer have much interest in. All in all though, you still have some game left.

Age 50-60: Sex is still important to you and your desire is still there, but is typically diminished. Your erection can still be respectable and functional, but is not the majestic sight that it once was, and touch is often necessary for full arousal. Nighttime and morning erections become few and far between. The frequency of intercourse declines while the frequency of prematurely losing the erection before the sexual act is complete increases. A dribbling-quality ejaculation occurs with diminished volume and force, begging the question of why you are “drying up.” Orgasms are less intense and at times it feels like nothing much happened—more “firecracker” than “fireworks.” Getting a second erection is difficult, and you may find much more delight in sleeping rather than pursuing a sexual encore. Sex is no longer a sport, but a recreational activity…sometimes just reserved for the weekends.

Age 60-70: “Sexagenarian” is a misleading word…more apt a term for the 18-30 year-old group, because your sex life doesn’t compare to theirs—they are the athletes and you the spectators. Your testosterone level has plummeted over the decades, probably accounting for your diminished desire. Erections are still obtainable with some coaxing, but they are not five star erections, more like three stars, suitable for penetration, but not the rigid flagpole of yonder years. They are less reliable, and at times your penis suffers with “attention deficit disorder,” unable to focus and losing its mojo prematurely, unable to complete the task at hand. Spontaneous erections, nighttime, and early morning erections become rare occurrences. Climax is not so climactic and explosive ejaculations are a matter of history. At times, you think you climaxed, but are unsure because the sensation was un-sensational. Ejaculation is down to a mere dribble. Seconds?…no thank you…that is reserved for helpings on the dinner table! Sex is no longer a recreational activity, but an occasional amusement.

Age 70-80: When asked about his sexual function, my 70-something-year-old patient replied: “Retired…and I’m really upset that I’m not even upset.”

You may still have some lingering sexual desire left in you, but it’s a far cry from the fire in your groin that you had when you were young. With physical coaxing and coercion, your penis can at times be prodded to rise to the occasion, like a cobra responding to the beck and call of the flute of the snake charmer. The quality of erections has noticeably dropped, with penile fullness without the rigidity that used to make penetration such a breeze. At times, the best that you can do is to obtain a partial erection that cannot penetrate, despite pushing, shoving and manipulating. Spontaneous erections have gone the way of the 8-track player. Thank goodness for discovering that even a limp penis can be stimulated to climax, so it is still possible for you to experience sexual intimacy, although the cli-“max” is more like a cli-“min.”

Age 80-90: You are now a full-fledged member of a group that has an ever-increasing constituency—the ED club. Although you as an octogenarian may still be able to have sex, most of your brethren cannot; however, they remain appreciative that at least they still have their penises to use as spigots, allowing them to stand to urinate, a distinct competitive advantage over the womenfolk. Compounding the problem is that your spouse is no longer a spring chicken and because she has likely been post-menopausal for many years, she has a significantly reduced sex drive and vaginal dryness, making sex downright difficult, if not impossible. If you are able to have sex on your birthday and anniversary, you are doing much better than most. To quote one of my octogenarian patients in reference to his penis: “It’s like walking around with a dead fish.”

Age 90-100: To quote the comedian George Burns: “Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” You are grateful to be alive and in the grand scheme of things, sex is low on the list of priorities. You can live vicariously through pleasant memories of your days of glory that are lodged deep in the recesses of your mind, as long as your memory holds out. When and if you do get an erection, you never want to waste it!

Sometimes A Cigar Is More Than A Cigar

Although changes in sexual function are virtually inevitable with the aging process, a decline is sexual function can also be a “canary in the trousers”—an indicator that a underlying medical problem exists that is of greater significance than the ED. In other words, erection quality can serve as a barometer of cardiovascular health– rigid and durable erections a gauge of good cardiovascular health and ED often a clue of poor cardiovascular health. Since the blood flow to the small penile arteries (diameter 1-2 millimeters) is often compromised in ED, the larger coronary arteries (4 millimeters) may be affected as well—if not now, then at some point in the not-to-distant future. For this reason, men with ED should have a medical evaluation seeking arterial disease elsewhere in the body.

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

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