Archive for October, 2016

Even More About Pelvic Prolapse: Diagnosis & Treatment

October 29, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/29/2016

Note: This is the final entry in a 3-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.

 How is POP diagnosed and evaluated?

The diagnosis of POP can usually be made by listening to the patient’s narrative: The typical complaint is “Doc, I’ve got a bulge coming out of my vagina when I stand up or strain and at times I need to push it back in.”

After listening to the patient’s history of the problem, the next step is a pelvic examination in stirrups.  However, the problem with an exam in this position is that this is NOT the position in which POP typically manifests itself, since POP is a problem that is provoked by standing and exertion. For this reason, the exam must be performed with the patient straining forcefully enough to demonstrate the POP at its fullest extent.

A pelvic examination involves observation, a speculum exam, passage of a small catheter into the bladder and a digital exam. Each region of potential prolapse through the vagina—roof, apex, and floor—must be examined independently.

box

A useful analogy is to think of the vagina as an open box (see above), with the vaginal lips represented by the open flaps of the box.  A cystocele (bladder prolapse) occurs when there is weakness of the roof of the box, a rectocele (rectal prolapse) when there is weakness of the floor of the box, and uterine prolapse or enterocele (intestinal prolapse) when there is weakness of the deep inner wall of the box.

Inspection will determine tissue health and the presence of a vaginal bulge with straining. After menopause, typical changes include thinning of the vaginal skin, redness, irritation, etc. The ridges and folds within the vagina that are typical in younger women tend to disappear after menopause.

Useful analogy: The normal vulva is shut like a closed clam. POP often causes the vaginal lips to gape like an open clam.

Since the vagina has top and bottom walls and since the bulge-like appearance of POP of the bladder or rectum look virtually identical—like a red rubber ball—it is imperative to use a speculum to sort out which organ is prolapsing and determine its extent. A one-bladed speculum is used to pull down the bottom wall of the vagina to observe the top wall for the presence of urethral hypermobility and cystocele, and likewise, to pull up the top wall to inspect for the presence of rectocele and perineal laxity. To examine for uterine prolapse and enterocele, both top and bottom walls must be pulled up and down, respectively, using two single-blade specula. Once the speculum is placed, the patient is asked to strain vigorously and comparisons are made between the extent of POP resting and straining, since prolapse is dynamic and will change with position and activity.

 

exam-relaxed

Image above shows vaginal exam at rest (mild prolapse)

exam-minor-strain

Image above shows vaginal exam with straining (moderate prolapse)

exam-full-streain

Image above shows vaginal exam with more straining (more severe prolapse)

After the patient has emptied her bladder, a small catheter (a narrow hollow tube) is passed into the bladder to determine how much urine remains in the bladder, to submit a urine culture in the event that urinalysis suggests a urinary infection and to determine urethral angulation. With the catheter in place, the angle that the urethra makes with the horizontal is measured. The catheter is typically parallel with the horizontal at rest. The patient is asked to strain and the angulation is again measured, recording the change in urethral angulation that occurs between resting and straining. Urethral angulation with straining (hypermobility) is a sign of loss of urethral support, which often causes stress urinary incontinence (leakage with cough, strain and exercise).

Finally, a digital examination is performed to assess vaginal tone and pelvic muscle strength. A bimanual exam (combined internal and external exam in which the pelvic organs are felt between vaginal and external examining fingers) is done to check for the presence of pelvic masses. On pelvic exam it is usually fairly obvious whether or not a woman has had vaginal deliveries. With exception, the pelvic support and tone of the vagina in a woman who has not delivered vaginally can usually be described as “high and tight,” whereas support in a woman who has had multiple vaginal deliveries is generally “lower and looser.”

Depending upon circumstances, tests to further evaluate POP may be used, including an endoscopic inspection of the lining of the bladder and urethra (cystoscopy), sophisticated functional tests of bladder storage and emptying (urodynamics) and, on occasion, imaging tests (bladder fluoroscopy or pelvic MRI).

cystogram-normal

Image above is x-ray of bladder showing oval-shaped well-supported normal bladder.

cd-cystocele

                    Image above is x-ray of bladder showing tennis-racquet shaped bladder,                          which is high-grade cystocele.

How is POP treated?

First off, it is important to know that POP is a common condition and does not always need to be treated, particularly when it is minor and not causing symptoms that affect one’s quality of life.

There are three general options of managing POP: conservative; pessary and surgery (pelvic reconstruction).

Conservative treatment options for POP include pelvic floor muscle training Kegel); modification of activities that promote the POP (heavy lifting and high impact exercises); management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure; weight loss; smoking cessation; and consideration for hormone replacement since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device available in a variety of sizes and shapes that is inserted into the vagina where it acts as “strut” to help provide pelvic support.

512px-pessaries

Image above is an assortment of pessaries (Thank you Wikipedia, public domain)

The side effects of a pessary are vaginal infection and discharge, the inability to retain the pessary in proper position and stress urinary incontinence caused by the “unmasking” of the incontinence that occurs when the prolapsed bladder is splinted back into position by the pessary. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Studies comparing the use of pessaries with pelvic floor training in managing women with advanced POP have shown that both can significantly improve symptoms; however, pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to be more effective, specifically for bladder POP.

PFM Training (PFMT)

PFMT is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate POP, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the pelvic muscles that play a key role in the support of the pelvic organs. Weak pelvic muscles can be strengthened; however, if POP is due to connective tissue damage, PFMT will not remedy the injury, but will strengthen the pelvic muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. PFMT is most effective in women with lesser degrees of POP and chances are that if your POP is moderate-severe, PFMT will be less effective. However, if not cured, the POP can still be improved, and that might be sufficient for you.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of PFMT for POP, including improved pelvic muscle strength, pelvic support and a reduction in the severity and symptoms of POP. Improvements in pelvic support via PFMT are most notable with bladder POP as opposed to rectal or uterine POP. PFMT is also capable of preventing POP from developing when applied to a healthy female population without POP.

In symptomatic advanced POP, surgery is often necessary, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. There are a number of considerations that go into the decision-making process regarding the specifics of the surgical procedure (pelvic reconstruction) to improve/cure the problem. These factors include which organ or organs are prolapsed; the extent and severity of the POP; the desire to have children in the future; the desire to be sexually active; age; and, if the POP involves a cystocele, the specific type of cystocele (since there are different approaches depending on the type). Surgery to repair POP can be performed vaginally or abdominally (open, laparoscopic or robotic), and can be done with or without mesh (synthetic netting or other biological materials used to reinforce the repair). The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal length, width and axis and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bladder, bowel and sexual function.

More than 300,000 surgical procedures for repair of POP are performed annually in the United States. An estimated 10-20% of women will undergo an operation for POP over the course of their lifetime.

Dr. Arnold Kegel—the gynecologist responsible for popularizing pelvic floor exercises—believed that surgical procedures for female incontinence and pelvic relaxation are facilitated by pre-operative and post-operative pelvic floor exercises. Like cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac surgery and physical rehabilitation after orthopedic procedures, PFMT after pelvic reconstruction surgery can help minimize recurrences. Pre-operative PFMT—as advocated by Kegel—can sometimes improve pelvic support to an extent such that surgery will not be necessary. At the very least, proficiency of the PFM learned pre-operatively (before surgical incisions are made and pelvic anatomy is altered) will make the process of post-operative rehabilitation that much easier.

Useful resource: Sherrie Palm is an advocate, champion and crusader for women’s pelvic health who has made great strides with respect to POP awareness, guidance and support. She is founder and director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support and author of “Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic.” Visit PelvicOrganProlapseSupport.org.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.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. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

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

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.  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.

 

More About Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

October 22, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/22/2016

This is the second entry in a three-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.  It is important to understand that the issue in POP is NOT with the pelvic organ per se, but with the support of that organ. POP is not the problem, but the result of the problem. The prolapsed organ is merely an “innocent passenger” in the POP process.

How Much Of A Vaginal Bulge Can POP Cause?

The extent of prolapse can vary from minimal to severe and can vary over the course of a day, depending on position and activity level.  POP is more pronounced with with standing (vs. sitting or lying down) and with physical activities (vs. sedentary).

The simplest system for grading POP severity uses a scale of 1-4:

grade 1 (slight POP); grade 2 (POP to vaginal opening with straining); grade 3 (POP beyond vaginal opening with straining); grade 4 (POP beyond vaginal opening at all times).

Which Organs Does POP Affect?

POP can involve one or more of the pelvic organs including the following: urethra (urethral hypermobility); bladder (cystocele); rectum (rectocele); uterus (uterine prolapse); intestines (enterocele); the vagina itself (vaginal vault prolapse); and the perineum (perineal laxity).

Urethra

The healthy, well-supported urethra has a “backboard” or “hammock” of support tissue that lies beneath it. With a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, the urethra is pushed downwards, but because of the backboard’s presence, the urethra gets pinched closed between the abdominal pressure above and the hammock below, allowing urinary control.

When the support structures of the urethra are weakened, a sudden increase in abdominal pressure (from a cough, sneeze, jump or other physical exertion) will push the urethra down and out of its normal position, a condition known as urethral hypermobility. With no effective “backboard” of support tissue under the urethra, stress urinary incontinence will often occur.

sui

Urethral hyper-mobility causing stress urinary incontinence (the gush of urine) when this patient was asked to cough.

Bladder

Descent of the bladder through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a cystocele, a.k.a. “dropped bladder,” “prolapsed bladder,” or “bladder hernia.”

A cystocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into or even outside the vagina; the need for pushing the cystocele back in in order to urinate; obstructive urinary symptoms (a slow, weak stream that stops and starts and incomplete bladder emptying) due to the prolapsed bladder causing urethral kinking; urinary symptoms (frequent and urgent urinating); and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

untitled

Cystocele

Rectum

Descent of the rectum through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a rectocele, a.k.a. “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” or “rectal hernia.” The rectum protrudes into the floor of the vagina. A rectocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into the vagina, especially noticeable during bowel movements; a kink of the normally straight rectum causing difficulty with bowel movements and the need for vaginal “splinting” (straightening the kink with one’s fingers) to empty the bowels; incomplete emptying of the rectum; fecal incontinence; and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

rectocele

Rectocele with perineal laxity

Perineum

Often accompanying a rectocele is perineal muscle laxity, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. Weakness in these muscles can cause the following anatomical changes: a widened and loose 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.

Women with vaginal laxity 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 orgasm, difficulty retaining tampons, difficulty accommodating and retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, the vagina filling with water while bathing and vaginal flatulence (passing air through the vagina). The perception of having a loose vagina can often lead to low self-esteem.

Small Intestine

The peritoneum is a thin sac that contains the abdominal organs, including the small intestine. Descent of the peritoneal contents through a weakness in the supporting tissues at the innermost part of the vagina (the apex of the vagina) gives rise to an enterocele, a.k.a. “dropped small intestine,” “small intestine prolapse,” or “small intestine hernia.”

An enterocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding through the vagina, intestinal cramping due to small intestine trapped within the enterocele, and vaginal pressure/pain and/or painful intercourse.

enterocele

Enterocele

Uterus

Descent of the uterus and cervix because of weakness of their supporting structures results in uterine prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped uterus,” “prolapsed uterus,” or “uterine hernia.” Normally, the cervix is situated deeply in the vagina. As uterine prolapse progresses, the extent of descent into the vaginal canal will increase.

Uterine POP typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding from the vagina; difficulty urinating; the need to manually push back the uterus in order to urinate; urinary urgency and frequency; urinary incontinence; kidney obstruction because of the descent of the bladder and ureters (tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder) that are dragged down with the uterus, creating a kink of the ureters; vaginal pain with sitting and walking; painful intercourse; and spotting and/or bloody vaginal discharge from the externalized uterus, which becomes subject to trauma and abrasions from being out of position. The most extreme form of uterine POP is uterine “procidentia,” a situation in which the uterus is exteriorized at all times and, because of external exposure, has a tendency for ulceration and bleeding.

 

uterus

Uterine prolapse

ulcerated-procidentia

Severe uterine prolapse (procidentia) with ulcerative inflammation surrounding cervix

Vagina

The most advanced stage of POP occurs when the support structures of the vagina are weakened to such an extent that the vaginal canal itself turns inside out. Vault prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped vaginal vault,” “prolapsed vaginal vault,”or “vaginal vault hernia,” is rarely an isolated event, but often occurs coincident with other forms of POP and most often is a consequence of hysterectomy. If the vagina is likened to an internal “sock,” vaginal vault prolapse is a condition in which the sock is turned inside out. When I explain vaginal vault prolapse to patients, I demonstrate it by turning a front pocket of my pants inside out.

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.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. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

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

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.  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.

 

What’s That Bulge Coming Out Of My Vagina?

October 15, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD   10/15/2016

untitled

Photo above: typical appearance of  a vaginal bulge (in this case a dropped bladder)

“The thought was delivered just after my newborn’s placenta: A sneaking suspicion that things were not quite the same down there, and they might never be again…my daughter had finished using my vagina as a giant elastic waterslide.”

-Alissa Walker, Gizmodo.com, April 2, 2015

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The 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.

The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) divide the abdominal and pelvic cavities above from the perineum below, forming an important structural support system that keeps the pelvic organs in place. Many physical activities result in significant increases in abdominal pressure, the force of which is largely exerted downwards towards the pelvic floor, especially when upright. This pelvic floor “loading” puts the PFM at particular risk for damage with the potential for pelvic organ prolapse, a.k.a. pelvic relaxation or pelvic organ hernia.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

POP is a common condition in which there is weakness of the PFM and other connective tissues that provide pelvic support, allowing the pelvic organs to move from their normal positions into the space of the vaginal canal and, at its most severe degree, outside the vaginal opening. It is a situation in which the pelvic organs go wayward, literally “popping” out of place. POP often causes a bulge outside the vaginal opening, appearing like a man’s scrotum…little wonder why most women are disturbed by this condition.

Two-thirds of women who have delivered children have anatomical evidence of POP (although most are not symptomatic) and 10-20% will need to undergo a corrective surgical procedure. POP is not life threatening, but can be a distressing and disruptive problem that negatively impacts quality of life. Despite how common an issue it is, many women are reluctant to seek help because they are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone or have the misconception that there are no treatment options available or fear that surgery will be the only solution.

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

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

When one’s bladder or rectum descends into the vaginal space, there can be an obstruction to the passage of urine or stool, respectively. This often requires placing one or more fingers in the vagina to manually push back the prolapsed organ. Doing so will straighten the “kink” in order to facilitate emptying one’s bladder or bowels. Pushing (and holding in place) a prolapsed organ back into position with one’s finger(s) is called “splinting.”

Why Do I Have A Bulge Coming Out Of My Vagina?

POP results from a combination of factors including multiple pregnancies and vaginal deliveries (especially deliveries of large babies), menopause, hysterectomy, aging and weight gain. Additionally, conditions that give rise to chronic increases in abdominal pressure contribute to POP. These include chronic constipation, asthma, bronchitis and emphysema (chronic wheezing and coughing), seasonal allergies (chronic sneezing), high-impact sports, and repetitive heavy lifting, whether work-associated or due to weight training. Other causes are genetic predispositions to POP and connective tissue disorders.

Childbirth is one of the most traumatic events that the female body experiences and vaginal delivery is the single most important factor in the development of POP. Passage of the large human head through the female pelvis causes intense mechanical pressure and tissue trauma (stretching, tearing, compression and crushing) to the PFM and PFM nerve supply. This results in separation or weakness of connective tissue attachments and alterations and damage to the integrity of the pelvis. POP that occurs because of a difficult vaginal delivery may not manifest until decades later. It is unusual for women who have not had children or who have delivered by elective caesarian section to develop significant POP.

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.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. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

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

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.  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.

 

 

“Doc, My Penis Is Shrinking”

October 8, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  10/8/16

cuixes_de_lapol%c2%b7lo_de_pinedo

Image above: Roman copy of Apollo Delphinios by Demetrius Miletus at the end of the second century (Attribution: Joanbanjo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Not a day goes by in my urology practice when I fail to hear the following complaint from a patient: “Doc, my penis is shrinking.” The truth of the matter is that the penis can shrivel from a variety of circumstances, but most of the time it is a mere illusion—a sleight of penis, if you will. Weight gain and obesity cause a generous pubic fat pad, the male equivalent of the female mons pubis, which will make the penis appear shorter and retrusive. However, penile length is usually intact, with the penis merely hiding behind the fat pad, the “turtle effect.” Lose the fat and presto…the penis reappears. Having a plus-sized figure is not such a good thing when it comes to size matters, as well as many other matters.

Factoid: It is estimated that with every 35 lbs. of weight gain, there is one-inch loss in apparent penile length.

The 9-letter word every man despises: S-H-R-I-N-K-A-G-E, immortalized by Jason Alexander playing the character George in the Seinfeld series. Jerry’s girlfriend Rachel catches a glimpse of naked George after he has stepped out of a swimming pool. Suffice it to say that George’s penis was in a “non-optimized” state. George tries to explain: “Well I just got back from swimming in the pool and the water was cold.” Jerry makes the diagnosis: “Oh, you mean shrinkage” and George confirms: “Yes, significant shrinkage.”

Penis size has not escaped our “bigger is better” American mentality where large cars, homes, breasts,  buttocks and mega-logos on shirts are desirable and sought-after assets. The pervasive pornography industry–where many male stars are “hung like horses”– has given the average guy a bit of an inferiority complex.

Factoid: The reality of the situation is that the average male has an average-sized penis, but in our competitive society, although average is the norm, average curiously has gotten a bad rap.

Adages concerning penile size and function are common, e.g., “It’s not the size of the ship, but the motion of the ocean.” Or even better, as seen on a poster in a gateway while boarding an airplane: “Size should never outrank service.” The messages conveyed by these statements have significant merit, but nonetheless, to many men and women, size plays at least some role and many men have concerns about their size. Whereas men with tiny penises may be less capable of sexually pleasing a woman, men who have huge penises can end up intimidating women and provoking pain and discomfort.

Leonardo Da Vinci had an interesting take on perspectives: “Woman’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.”

Penile Stats

As a urologist who examines many patients a day, I can attest to the fact that penises come in all shapes and sizes and that flaccid length does not necessarily predict erect length and can vary depending upon many factors. There are showers and there are growers. Showers have a large flaccid length without significant expansion upon achieving an erection, as opposed to growers who have a relatively compact flaccid penis that expands significantly with erection.

With all biological parameters—including penis size—there is a bell curve with a wide range of variance, with most clustered in the middle and outliers at either end. Some men are phallically-endowed, some phallically-challenged, with most somewhere in the middle of the road. In a study of 3500 penises published by Alfred Kinsey, average flaccid length was 8.8 centimeters (3.5 inches). Average erect length ranged between 12.9-15 centimeters (5-6 inches). Average circumference of the erect penis was 12.3 centimeters (4.75 inches). As with so many physical traits, penis size is largely determined by genetic and hereditary factors. Blame it on your father (and mother).

Factoid: Hung like a horse—forget about it! The blue whale has the mightiest genitals of any animal in the animal kingdom: penis length is 8-10 feet; penis girth is 12-14 inches; ejaculate volume is 4-5 gallons; and testicles are 100-150 pounds. Hung like a whale!

Factoid: “Supersize Me.” In order to make their genitals look larger, the Mambas of New Hebrides wrap their penises in many yards of cloth, making them appear massive in length. The Caramoja tribe of Northern Uganda tie weights on the end of their penises in efforts to elongate them.

“Acute” Shrinkage

Penile size in an individual can be quite variable, based upon penile blood flow. The more blood flow, the more tumescence (swelling); the less blood flow, the less tumescence. “Shrinkage” is a real phenomenon provoked by exposure to cold (weather or water), the state of being anxious or nervous, and participation in sports. The mechanism in all cases involves blood circulation.

Cold exposure causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of arterial flow) to the body’s peripheral anatomy to help maintain blood flow and temperature to the vital core. This principle is used when placing ice on an injury, as the vasoconstriction will reduce swelling and inflammation. Similarly, exposure to heat causes vasodilation (expansion of arterial flow), the reason why some penile fullness can occur in a warm shower.

Nervous states and anxiety cause the release of the stress hormone adrenaline, which functions as a vasoconstrictor, resulting in numerous effects, including a flaccid penis. In fact, when the rare patient presents to the emergency room with an erection that will not quit, urologists often must inject an adrenaline-like medication into the penis to bring the erection down.

Hitting it hard in the gym or with any athletic pursuit demands a tremendous increase in blood flow to the parts of the body involved with the effort. There is a “steal” of blood flow away from organs and tissues not involved with the athletics with “shunting” of that blood flow to the organs and tissues with the highest oxygen and nutritional demands, namely the muscles. The penis is one of those organs from which blood is “stolen”—essentially “stealing from Peter to pay Paul” (pun intended!)—rendering the penis into a sad, deflated state. Additionally, the adrenaline release that typically accompanies exercise further shrinks the penis.

Cycling and other saddle sports—including motorcycle, moped, and horseback riding—put intense, prolonged pressure on the perineum (area between scrotum and anus), which is the anatomical location of the penile blood and nerve supply as well as pelvic floor muscles that help support erections and maintain rigidity.  Between the compromise to the penile blood flow and the nerve supply, the direct pressure effect on the pelvic floor muscles, and the steal, there is a perfect storm for a limp, shriveled and exhausted penis. More importantly is the potential erectile dysfunction that may occur from too much time in the saddle.

“Chronic” Shrinkage

Like any other body part, the penis needs to be used on a regular basis—the way nature intended—in order to maintain its health. In the absence of regular sexual activity, disuse atrophy (wasting away with a decline in anatomy and function) of the penile erectile tissues can occur, resulting in a “de-conditioned,” smaller and often temperamental penis.

Factoid: If you go for too long without an erection, smooth muscle, elastin and other tissues within the penis may be negatively affected, resulting in a loss of penile length and girth and negatively affecting ability to achieve an erection.

Factoid: Scientific studies have found that sexual intercourse on a regular basis protects against ED and that the risk of ED is inversely related to the frequency of intercourse. Men reporting intercourse less than once weekly had a two-fold higher incidence of ED as compared to men reporting intercourse once weekly.

Radical prostatectomy as a treatment for prostate cancer can cause penile shrinkage. This occurs because of the loss in urethral length necessitated by the surgical removal of the prostate, which is compounded by the disuse atrophy and scarring that can occur from the erectile dysfunction associated with the surgical procedure. For this reason, getting back in the saddle as soon as possible after surgery will help “rehabilitate” the penis by preventing disuse atrophy.

Peyronie’s Disease can cause penile shrinkage on the basis of scarring of the erectile tissues that prevents them from expanding properly.  For more on this, see my blog on the topic:

https://healthdoc13.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/peyronies-disease-not-the-kind-of-curve-you-want/

Medications that reduce testosterone levels are often used as a form of treatment for prostate cancer. The resultant low testosterone level can result in penile atrophy and shrinkage. Having a low testosterone level from other causes will also contribute to a reduction in penile size.

Are There Herbs, Vitamins or Pills That Can Increase Penile Size?

Do not waste your resources on the vast number of heavily advertised products that will supposedly increase penile size but have no merit whatsoever.  Realistically, the only medications capable of increasing penile size are the oral medications that are FDA approved for ED. Daily Cialis will increase penile blood flow and by so doing will increase flaccid penile dimensions over what they would normally be; the erect penis may be larger as well because of augmented blood flow.  Additionally, for many men this will restore the capability of being sexually active whereas previously they were unable to obtain a penetrable erection, thus allowing them to “use it instead of losing it” and maintain healthy penile anatomy and function.

Is Penile Enlargement Feasible Through Mechanical Means?

It is possible to increase penile size using tissue expansion techniques. The vacuum suction device uses either a manual or battery-powered source to create a vacuum in a cylinder into which the penis is placed. The negative pressure pulls blood into the penis, expanding penile length and girth. A constriction ring is placed around the base of the penis to maintain the erection. The vacuum is used to manage ED as well as a means of penile rehabilitation and is also used prior to penile implant surgery to increase the dimensions of the penis and allow a slightly larger device to be implanted than could be used otherwise. It can also be helpful under circumstances of penile shrinkage.

vsd

Vacuum Suction Device

The Penimaster Pro is a penile traction system that is approved in the European Union and Canada for urological conditions that lead to shortening and curvature of the penis. In the USA it is under investigation by the FDA. It is a means of using mechanical stress to cause penile tissue expansion and enlargement.

penimaster

Penimaster Pro

What’s The Deal With Penile Enlargement Surgery?

Some men who would like to have a larger penis may consider surgery. In my opinion, penile enlargement surgery, aka, “augmentation phalloplasty,” is highly risky and not ready for prime time. Certain procedures are “sleight of penis” procedures including cutting the suspensory ligaments, disconnecting and moving the attachment of the scrotum to the penile base, and liposuction of the pubic fat pad. These procedures unveil some of the “hidden” penis, but do nothing to enhance overall length. Other procedures attempt to “bulk” the penis by injections of fat, silicone, bulking agents, tissue grafts and other implantable materials. The untoward effects of enlargement surgery can include an unsightly, lumpy, discolored, painful and perhaps poorly functioning penis. Realistically, in the quest for a larger member, the best we can hope for is to accept our genetic endowment, remain physically fit, and keep our pelvic floor muscles well conditioned.

What’s Up With Penile Transplants?

The world’s first penis transplant was performed at Guangzhou General Hospital in China when microsurgery was used to transplant a donor penis to a recipient whose penis was damaged beyond repair in an accident. Subsequently, there have been several transplants done for penile trauma.  Hmmm, now here is a concept for penile enlargement!

What To Do To Avoid Shrinkage issues?

  • Accept that cold, stress and athletics will cause temporary shrinkage
  • Be aware that cycling and other saddle sports can cause shrinkage as well as erectile dysfunction: wear comfortable and protective shorts; get measured for a saddle with an appropriate fit; frequently rise up out of the saddle, taking the pressure off the perineum
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay physically active to maintain a lean physique
  • Use it or lose it: stay sexually active
  • Do pelvic floor exercises (a.k.a. Man Kegels): visit http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com
  • “Rehab” the penis to avoid disuse atrophy after radical prostatectomy: oral ED meds, pelvic floor muscle training, vibrational stimulation, vacuum suction device, penile injection therapy; consider “pre-hab” before the surgery
  • Seek urological care for Peyronie’s disease

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

E-book available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback available via websites. 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, Vacuum Suction Devices and many other quality products can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

It’s Not Just What’s In Your Genes That Counts: 10 Interesting Genetic Facts

October 1, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/1/2016

This entry is a little diversion from my usual pelvic health blogs, but covers a fascinating topic that is at the forefront of medical research.

dna-163466_960_720

(Thank you, Pixabay, for image above of DNA)

  1. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, but apes have 24 pairs. We lost a chromosome during evolution, but gained a thumb…less is more! Noteworthy is that the genetic material of apes is 96% identical to that of humans.
  2. Our chromosomes contain 20,000 or so genes—only 2000 fewer than worms and less than corn, rice or wheat…in this instance, size doesn’t matter!
  3. Every cell in our body has identical chromosomes and genes, yet the expression of the genes varies greatly from cell to cell—skin cells are clearly very different than kidney cells, yet share the same genetic blueprint. The nuance, complexity and real mystery of our chromosomes is the orchestration of turning on and turning off certain genes in certain cells at certain times at certain places.
  4. Our genes can magically shuffle their sequence to make genetic variants to enable fighting off invading pathogens. This dynamic ability allows us to ward off pathogens that are constantly evolving.
  5. The basic function of genes is to encode for proteins. However, only 2% of the chromosome contains genes that do so. 98% of the genetic material of the chromosome does not encode for proteins and is either located between or within protein-encoding genes and is responsible either for regulating genes or has mysterious functions that are not understood.
  6. Many of our human genes are actually not human.  Embedded within our chromosomes are inactive portions derived from ancient viruses and other non-human sources.
  7. The ends of chromosomes have “telomeres” that protects the chromosomes from fraying, acting like the plastic pieces at the end of shoelaces.
  8. The simplicity of the genetic code is well understood: DNA builds RNA, RNA builds proteins, and a triplet of bases of DNA specifies one amino acid of the protein. However, we are clueless about the complexity of the genomic code, with no clear understanding of the coordination of gene expression to build, maintain and repair a human being.
  9. The Y chromosome determines maleness. It is the only unpaired chromosome, meaning no mate chromosome or duplicate copy, leaving each gene on the chromosome to fend for itself. If a mutation occurs, there is no repairing it by copying it from the intact gene on the sister chromosome. In other words, the Y chromosome has no backup (spare tire) and when a mutation occurs, it spells trouble, being the most vulnerable spot in the human genome. As a consequence, evolutionary forces have transferred important genetic material to less vulnerable chromosomes, whittling the Y chromosome down to being the smallest of all chromosomes. Like risk-taking men, the male chromosome lives dangerously!
  10. Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of our cells, responsible for energy and metabolism. All human embryos inherit their mitochondria exclusively from their mothers, as sperm do not contribute mitochondria. If you feel depleted of energy, blame it on your mother!

 Much of the information for this entry was derived from an awesome book: The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, one that I highly suggest that you put on your reading list.

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.