Archive for September, 2016

“The Kegel Fix”: A New Twist On An Old Exercise

September 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel  MD  9/24/2016

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I am a urologist with a strong interest in pelvic health, fitness and conditioning. Having first developed a curiosity with in this while in training as a urology resident at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, I became captivated with it at the time of my post-graduate fellowship training at UCLA. Since early adulthood, I have been passionate about the vitality of healthy living (“Our greatest wealth is health”) and I have come to recognize that pelvic health is an important component of a healthy lifestyle.

My philosophy of pelvic medicine embodies the principles that follow:  One of my key roles is as a patient educator in order to enable patients to have the wherewithal to make informed decisions about their health (In fact, the word doctor comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach”). I am a firm believer in trying simple and conservative solutions before complex and aggressive ones. Furthermore, I abide by the concept that if it isn’t broken, there is no purpose trying to fix it, expressed by the statement: “Primum non nocere,” meaning “First do no harm.”  I am an enthusiastic advocate of healthy lifestyle as critical to our wellbeing and enjoy the following quote: “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”

After many years on the urology/gynecology front lines, I have concluded that pelvic health is a neglected area of women’s health, despite pelvic floor problems being incredibly common after childbirth. The notion of pelvic exercise (a.k.a. Kegels) is a vastly unexploited and misunderstood resource, despite great potential benefits to exercising these small muscles that can have such a large impact.  A strong pelvic floor has innumerable advantages, including helping one prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, aging and high impact sports.  I have found that most women have only a very cursory and superficial knowledge of pelvic anatomy and function.  I have also discovered that it is challenging to motivate women to exercise internal muscles that are not visible and are generally used subconsciously, ensure that the proper muscles are being exercised and avoid boredom so that the exercises are not given up prematurely.

Surprisingly, I have found that even health care personnel –those “in the know” including physical therapists, personal trainers and nurses–have difficulty becoming adept at pelvic conditioning. When asked to clench their pelvic muscles, many women squeeze their buttocks, thigh or abdominal muscles, others lift their bottom in the air as one would do the “bridge” maneuver in yoga class, and still others strain down as opposed to pull up and in.

The good news is that following decades of “stagnancy” following the transformative work of Dr. Arnold Kegel in the late 1940s–who was singularly responsible for popularizing pelvic floor exercises in women after childbirth–there has been a resurgence of interest in the pelvic floor and the benefits of pelvic floor training. I am pleased to be able to contribute to this pelvic renaissance with the publication of The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. The book is a modern take on pelvic exercises that I was motivated to write because of my frustration with the existing means of educating women with respect to their pelvic floors and how to properly exercise them to reap the benefits that can accrue.

I thought carefully about the specific pelvic floor problems that Kegel exercises can potentially address—pelvic organ prolapse, sexual issues, stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder/bowel, and pelvic pain due to pelvic muscle tension—and how each of these issues is underpinned by unique pelvic floor deficits not necessarily amenable to the one-size-fits-all approach that has been traditionally used. In The Kegel Fix I introduce home-based, progressive, tailored exercises consisting of strength, power and endurance training regimens—customized for each specific pelvic floor problem. The book is appropriate not only for women suffering with the aforementioned pelvic problems, but also for those who wish to maintain healthy pelvic functioning and prevent future problems.

I have found that most women who are taught Kegel exercises are uncertain about how to put them into practical use. This is by no fault of their own, but because they have not been taught “functional pelvic fitness”–what I call “Kegels-on-demand.” This concept—a major emphasis of the book—is the actionable means of applying pelvic conditioning to daily tasks and real-life common activities. This is the essence of Kegel pelvic floor training—to condition these muscles and to apply them in such a way and at the indicated times so as to improve one’s quality of life—as opposed to static and isolated, out of context exercises.

Bottom Line: Conditioning one’s pelvic muscles and learning how to implement this conditioning is a first-line, non-invasive, safe, natural approach with the potential for empowering women and improving their pelvic health, with benefits from bedroom to the bathroom. Many women participate in exercise programs that include cardio and strength training of the external muscles including the chest, back, abdomen, arms and legs. It is equally important to exercise the pelvic floor muscles, perhaps one of the most vital groups of muscles in the body.

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, which some find advantageous for books about personal and private issues, as well as the fact that it is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, and fonts can be adjusted to one’s comfort level. Furthermore, the e-book has numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew L. Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health, Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. 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 and 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.

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

 

 

 

 

Loose (Vaginal) Lips Sink Ships

September 17, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 9/17/2016

-Loose_lips_might_sink_ships-_-_NARA_-_513543

“Loose lips sink ships.” These four words convey the warning “be very cautious of unguarded talk.” Dating back to WWII, this phrase appeared on posters created by the War Advertising Council to advise the public to be discreet with conversation, since information in the wrong hands could have disastrous consequences.

In the context of pelvic health—the topic that I often write about—“loose lips sink ships” has an entirely different meaning. When I use the term “loose lips,” I mean the literal term “loose lips,” referring to sagging and lax female genital anatomy that is a not uncommon occurrence after multiple vaginal births and other promoting factors. When I use the term “sink ships,” I refer to a variety of pelvic problems that can occur in women with “loose lips,” including urinary, bowel and sexual issues (that can affect the partner as well ).

Obstetrical Factors Can CauseLoose Lips”

Genital anatomy, particularly the all-important structural supportive muscles of the pelvis–the pelvic floor muscles (PFM)–take a beating from pregnancy, labor and vaginal delivery. Pregnancy incurs maternal weight gain, a change in body posture, pregnancy-related hormonal changes, the pressure of a growing uterus and fetal weight, all of which may reduce the supportive and sphincter (urinary and bowel control) functions of the PFM.

Labor is called so for a genuine reason…the hours one spends pushing and straining are often unkind to the PFM. Elective Caesarian section avoids labor and affords some protection to the PFM, but prolonged labor culminating in an emergency C-section is equally as potentially damaging to the PFM as is vaginal delivery.

Vaginal delivery is the ultimate PFM traumatic event. The soft tissues of the pelvis (including the PFM) get crushed in the “vise” between baby’s bony skull and mother’s bony pelvis and are simply no match for the inflexibility of these bones. The PFM and connective tissues are frequently stretched, if not torn, from their attachments to the pubic bone and pelvic sidewalls, and the nerves to the pelvic floor are often affected as well. The undesirable consequences of this obstetric “trauma” include altered PFM anatomy with loss of vaginal tone and function, a.k.a. birth-related laxity (“loose lips”).

Studies measuring PFM strength before and after first delivery show a decrease in PFM strength in about 50% of women. Vaginal delivery is much more likely to reduce PFM strength than C-section delivery. Not surprisingly, following delivery, the larger the measured diameter of the vaginal opening, the weaker the vaginal strength.

Although the process of childbirth will not inevitably change one’s vaginal and pelvic anatomy and function, it does so commonly enough. After a vaginal delivery, the vagina becomes looser and more exposed, the vaginal lining becomes dryer, and hormonal-related pigmentation changes often cause a darker appearance to the vulva.

Beyond childbirth, the PFM can also become weakened, flabby and poorly functional with menopause, weight gain, a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, sports injuries, pelvic trauma, chronic straining, pelvic surgery, diabetes, tobacco use, steroid use, and disuse atrophy (not exercising the PFM). Sexual inactivity can lead to their loss of tone, texture and function. With aging there is a decline in the muscle mass and contractile abilities of the PFM, often resulting in PFM dysfunction.

“Sink Ships”

 As a urologist who cares for many female patients, my clinical sessions bear witness to common pelvic floor complaints that can be classified under the category of “loose lips”:

 “My vagina is just not the same as it was before I had my kids. It’s loose to the extent that I can’t keep a tampon in.”

–Allyson, age 38

“Sex is so different now. I don’t get easily aroused the way I did when I was younger. Intercourse doesn’t feel like it used to and I don’t climax as often or as intensively as I did before having my three children. My husband now seems to get ‘lost’ in my vagina. I worry about satisfying him.”

–Leah, age 43

 “When I bent over to pick up my granddaughter, I felt a strange sensation between my legs, as if something gave way. I rushed to the bathroom and used a hand mirror and saw a bulge coming out of my vagina. It looked like a pink ball and I felt like all my insides were falling out.”

–Karen, age 66

 “Every time I go on the trampoline with my daughter, my bladder leaks. The same thing happens when I jump rope with her.”

–Brittany, age 29

How “Loose Lips” Affect You and Your Partner

Weakness in the PFM cause the following anatomical changes: a wider and looser vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal orientation such that the vagina assumes a more upwards orientation as opposed to its normal downwards angulation towards the sacral bones.

“Loose lips” are not caused by an intrinsic problem with the vagina, but by the extrinsic weakened PFM that no longer provide optimal vaginal support.

Women with this issue who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina, making intercourse less satisfying for themselves and their partners. This may lead to difficulty achieving climax, difficulty retaining tampons, difficulty retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, the vagina filling up with water while bathing and vaginal flatulence (passage of air). The perception of having a loose vagina can lead to self-esteem issues.

 Women with “loose lips” often have difficulty in “accommodating” the penis properly, resulting in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it, with the end result being diminished sensation for both partners. 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.

Da Vinci made an interesting observation on perspectives: “Women’s desire is the opposite of that of man. She wishes the size of the man’s member to be as large as possible, while the man desires the opposite for the woman’s genital parts.

Bottom Line: “Loose lips” (literally) can sink “ships” (figuratively), causing a number of pelvic floor dysfunctions including pelvic organ prolapse and urinary and bowel control issues. Furthermore, “loose lips” can sink your partner’s “ship,” making sexual intercourse challenging at times and less pleasurable for both parties. If your partner has compromised erections because of aging or other causes, “loose lips” can aggravate his problem by not providing sufficient stimulation to keep his penis erect. Help keep the anatomy and function of your female parts in good working order by participating in a PFM training program (Kegel pelvic exercises).

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 THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc 

Co-creator of the comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered Private Gym/PelvicRx, a male pelvic floor muscle training program built upon the foundational work of renowned Dr. Arnold Kegel. The program empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance weights, this program helps to improve sexual function and to prevent urinary incontinence: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  

In the works is the female PelvicRx DVD pelvic floor muscle training for women.

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

 

Pelvic Injuries From Childbirth

September 10, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  9/10/2016  

Smellie_forceps

Image above: William Smellie (1697-1763): A Set of Anatomical Tables with Explanations and an Abridgement of the Practice of Midwifery, 1754.

The female bony pelvis provides the infrastructure to support the pelvic organs and to allow childbirth. Adequate “closure” is needed for pelvic organ support, yet sufficient “opening” is necessary to permit vaginal delivery. The female pelvis evolved as a compromise between these two important, but opposing functions. Unfortunately, the process of childbirth has the potential for damaging the “closure” mechanism of the pelvis, which can result in permanent childbirth injuries that are often suffered in silence.

Obscured in the magic of delivering a human being through the birth canal are the lasting physical effects that can occur from the birth process. The average birth weight of a newborn is 7.5 pounds, a considerable load to push (and pull) through the vaginal canal. It is a popular misconception that pelvic anatomy rapidly returns to its pre-pregnancy status. Some women do come through the process relatively unscathed with minimal physical changes, whereas others sustain significant pelvic trauma from the process. Potential long-term ramifications may include the following: urinary and fecal incontinence (leakage); vaginal laxity (looseness); pelvic organ prolapse (descent of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vaginal space and at times outside the vaginal opening); vaginal pain with sexual intercourse; and chronic back pain.

The risk factors for childbirth injuries are larger babies, prolonged labor, narrow vaginal anatomy and the need for tools to help deliver the baby, e.g., forceps. Vaginal injuries may involve lacerations, pelvic bone fractures, pelvic floor muscle tears, etc. Although vaginal delivery is the ultimate traumatic event, pregnancy and labor are important factors as well. Accompanying pregnancy is maternal weight gain, a change in body posture, hormonal changes and the pressure of a growing uterus and fetal weight. Labor is an appropriate term for the tough work a mother has to do to push out a baby’s head. The more hours spent pushing and straining, the greater the potential trauma to pelvic anatomy. During the process of vaginal delivery, the soft tissues of the pelvis get “crushed” in the “vise” between the baby’s bony skull and the mother’s bony pelvis. The pelvic muscles and connective tissues are frequently stretched, if not torn, from their attachments to the pubic bone and pelvic sidewalls, and the nerves to the pelvic floor are often equally affected. Although more than half of women who deliver vaginally sustain small tears, only 10% or so suffer a severe pelvic muscle tear or pelvic bone fracture.

The most extreme form of birth trauma is obstetric fistula, a not uncommon, horrific problem often occurring in poverty-stricken countries where pregnant women have poor access to obstetric care. It happens after enduring days of “obstructed” labor, with the baby’s head persistently pushing against the mother’s pelvic bones during contractions. This prevents pelvic blood flow and causes tissue death, resulting in a hole called a “fistula” between the vagina and the bladder and/or vagina and rectum. When birth finally occurs, the baby is often stillborn. The long-term consequences for the mother are severe urinary and bowel incontinence, shame and social isolation.

The human body has a remarkable ability to heal and repair itself, and given time, nature and patience, many women will recover their anatomy and function. However, a subset of women will have lasting effects from birth trauma, referred to by the term pelvic floor dysfunction.  This can result in urinary or bowel leakage with sneezing, coughing and exertion, pooching of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vaginal canal and at times beyond, a loose vagina that may adversely affect sexual relations and pelvic pain with sexual intercourse.

What to do to prepare?

  • Prenatal education: Knowledge is power–the more you know about the expectations of the pregnancy and childbirth process, the better prepared you will be.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and general fitness: A healthy lifestyle will go a long way in making the process of pregnancy, labor and delivery as easy as possible.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) starting prenatally: Realistically, this will not prevent pelvic floor issues in everyone, since obstetrical trauma can and will give rise to problems whether the pelvic muscles are fit or not! However, even if a pelvic exercise regimen does not prevent all forms of pelvic floor dysfunction, it will certainly have a positive impact, lessening the degree of the dysfunction and accelerating the healing process. Furthermore, mastering such exercises before pregnancy will make carrying the pregnancy easier and will facilitate labor and delivery and the effortless resumption of the exercises in the post-partum period, as the exercises were learned under ideal circumstances, prior to the injury. 

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 THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at http://www.TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc

Co-creator of the comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered Private Gym/PelvicRx, a male pelvic floor muscle training program built upon the foundational work of renowned Dr. Arnold Kegel. The program empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance weights, this program helps to improve sexual function and to prevent urinary incontinence: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  

In the works is the female PelvicRx DVD pelvic floor muscle training for women.

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

How To Raise Your Testosterone, Naturally

September 3, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  9/3/2016

17373-men-and-women-performing-aerobic-exercises-pv

(CDC/Amanda Mills from Public Health Image Library)

Two weeks ago, my entry was about the medication Clomid–a nice alternative to testosterone replacement therapy. What about a non-pharmacological, natural approach to raising testosterone levels?

Testosterone (T) is produced mostly in the testes, although the adrenal glands also manufacture a small amount. T has a critical role in male development and physical characteristics. It promotes tissue growth via protein synthesis, having “anabolic” effects including building of muscle mass, bone mass and strength, and “androgenic” (masculinizing) effects at the time of puberty. With the T surge at puberty many changes occur: penis enlargement; development of an interest in sex; increased frequency of erections; pubic, axillary, facial, chest and leg hair; decrease in body fat and increase in muscle and bone mass, growth and strength; deepened voice and prominence of the Adam’s apple; occurrence of fertility; and bone and cartilage changes including growth of jaw, brow, chin, nose and ears and transition from “cute” baby face to “angular” adult face. Throughout adulthood, T helps maintain libido, masculinity, sexuality, and youthful vigor and vitality. Additionally, T contributes to mood, red blood cell count, energy, and general “mojo.”

The amount of T made is regulated by the hypothalamus-pituitary-testicular axis, which acts like a thermostat to regulate the levels of T. Healthy men produce 6-8 mg testosterone daily, in a rhythmic pattern with a peak in the early morning and a lag in the later afternoon.  Low T levels can be low based upon testicular problems or hypothalamus/pituitary problems, although the problem most commonly is due to the aging testicle’s inability to manufacture sufficient levels of T. T levels gradually decline—approximately a 1% decline each year after age 30—sometimes giving rise to symptoms. These symptoms may include the following: fatigue; irritability; decreased cognitive abilities; depression; decreased libido; ED; ejaculatory dysfunction; decreased energy and sense of well-being; loss of muscle and bone mass; increased body fat; and abnormal lipid profile. A simple way to think about the effect of low T is that it accelerates the aging process.

Lifestyle factors are strongly associated with variations in testosterone (T) levels, with healthy lifestyles correlating with higher levels of T and unhealthy lifestyles with lower levels.  Some physicians regard T level as a laboratory marker of male physical health.

One of the key factors responsible for some of the decline in T that accompanies aging is excessive body fat. In fact, there is an inverse relationship between obesity and T levels, with increased body mass index (BMI) correlating with decreased T.

Factoid: Every 5-point increase in BMI translates to a 10% dip in T–an equivalent decline as would typically occur with 10 years of aging.

Fatty tissue – particularly visceral abdominal fat (the “beer belly”) – contains an abundance of metabolically active factors and hormones including aromatase, an enzyme which functions to convert T to the female sex hormone estrogen. Men with large bellies consequently are often found to have lower T levels and higher estrogen levels, which can result in “emasculation” with loss of sex drive, diminished erections, the disturbing loss of penile length and the presence of gynecomastia (man boobs)

Factoid: In addition to the decline in T, for every 35 lb. weight gain there is a 1-inch loss in apparent penile length because of the pubic fat pad that hides the penis.  

The good news is that weight loss will increase T levels and is capable of improving all of the aforementioned signs and symptoms. This has been demonstrated with all means of  weight loss, ranging from caloric restriction to bariatric surgery.

Another important lifestyle factor associated with variations in T levels is the extent of one’s physical fitness. Exercise is clearly associated with higher T levels. The degree of potential increase in T is related to both the quantity and quality of exercise. In general, the more time invested in moderate intensity exercise, the greater the increase in T.  As important as aerobic exercise is for health, resistance exercise is superior in terms of increasing T.

Bottom Line:  To optimize your T level, maintain a healthy weight and engage in an exercise program emphasizing resistance training.  If you are obese and sedentary, it is likely that you have low T, a situation that can be reversed with a modification to a healthier lifestyle. 

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 THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc 

Co-creator of the comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered Private Gym/PelvicRx, a male pelvic floor muscle training program built upon the foundational work of renowned Dr. Arnold Kegel. The program empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance weights, this program helps to improve sexual function and to prevent urinary incontinence: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  

In the works is the female PelvicRx DVD pelvic floor muscle training for women.

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount.