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

April 8, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/8/17

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

VED

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Brief History of VED

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

Nuts and Bolts of VED Use

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

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

Pluses and Minuses of the VED

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

VED After Radical Prostatectomy

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

DON’T Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles… TRAIN Them

April 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/1/2017

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

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

Blood In Urine: Reason For Worry?

March 25, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  3/25/17

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

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

256px-urinary_system-svg

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

 

3 Misconceptions Concerning Hematuria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Hematuria Is Evaluated

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

Answers to anatomy quiz:

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

 

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

March 18, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  3/18/17

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

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

 

Klitoriswurzel,_Klitoris,_Klitorisschenkel

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

(By Remas6 [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Mountainous and Hilly Female Terrain

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

Mons_pubis_jpg

Lower abdomen, mons pubis and pudendal cleft

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

The Epicenter of Female Sexual Anatomy

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

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

Penile-Clitoral_Structure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vulva

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

The Clitoral Response

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

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

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

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

 

Bulbospongiosus-Female

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

 

Ischiocavernosus-female

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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 material from this entry was excerpted from this book)

Testicular Congestion Syndrome (A.K.A. “Blue Balls”): What You Need To Know

March 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD   3/11/17

sphere-953963_640

“Blue balls,” a.k.a. “lover’s nuts,” is a commonly used colloquialism describing a malady marked by testicular and scrotal pain occurring after prolonged sexual arousal and stimulation without sexual climax.  Today’s entry explores this not uncommon situation that virtually every adult male has experienced at one point in his lifetime. The typical scenario is prolonged foreplay that ends there, with all arousal and no ejaculation. It’s like a stifled sneeze.  Thank you, Pixabay, for image above.

The sexual research by Masters and Johnson showed that the primary reaction to sexual stimulation is an increase in blood flow known as vaso-congestion (with the secondary reaction being an increase in muscle tension).  Orgasm is defined as the release from the state of vaso-congestion and muscle tension. If prolonged sexual stimulation occurs without ejaculation—congestion without decongestion—congestion does not dissipate, which can result in what is commonly known as “blue balls.”

The physiology of “blue balls” is as follows: With sexual arousal, there is increased arterial inflow of blood to the genital region, while the veins—which carry blood away from the genitals back to the heart—constrict, resulting in blood trapping that causes penile erection.  With the arousal process and the increase in genital blood flow, the testicles as well become somewhat swollen and turgid. With continued sexual stimulation in the absence of orgasmic resolution there is insufficient drainage of blood from the genitals resulting in further engorgement. The “blue” in “blue balls” describes a bluish tint that is related to venous engorgement. This tint is exactly the same as the bluish tint seen in the veins of your hand.  In addition to venous congestion, there is likely a contribution from sperm under pressure in the testicle and epididymis (structure above and behind testes where sperm are stored and mature), a condition known as “epididymal hypertension.”

Testicular congestion is a painful and frustrating condition, causing a tense, heavy, pressure-like, weighty discomfort and ache in both testicles. It feels as if someone is squeezing the testicles—a very unpleasant sensation. This situation begs for sexual release, after which the congestion and pain generally rapidly dissipate. If this does not happen with partnered sex, masturbation is the key to rapid relief.

Bottom Line (summarized poetically):   Blue balls are real…and a cure is coming.

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

 

 

Leaking Havoc: Diagnosing And Treating Female Stress Urinary Incontinence

March 4, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD  3/4/17

This is the completion of a blog entry uploaded last week entitled “Leaking Havoc: Female Stress Incontinence.”

How is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) diagnosed and evaluated?

Listening carefully to the patient is usually sufficient to make the diagnosis of SUI, the typical complaint being: “Doc, I leak urine when I sneeze, cough and exercise.”

After hearing the details of the patient’s problem, the next step is a pelvic examination. The issue with an exam with legs-up-in-stirrups is that this is NOT the position in which SUI typically occurs, since SUI is usually provoked by standing, exertion and physical activities. For this reason, the exam must be performed using straining or coughing forcefully enough to demonstrate the SUI.

The pelvic examination is done after the patient empties her bladder. The exam involves observation, passage of a small catheter (a narrow hollow tube) into the bladder, a speculum exam and a digital exam.

Inspection determines tissue health and the presence of urethral movement with straining. After menopause, typical changes include thinning of the vaginal skin, redness, irritation, etc. The ridges and folds within the vagina that are present in younger women (rugae) tend to disappear.

A small catheter is passed into the bladder to determine how much urine remains, to obtain a urine culture in the event that urinalysis suggests 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 (hyper-mobility) is a sign of loss of urethral support, which often is seen with SUI. The vagina is carefully inspected for other manifestations of pelvic organ prolapse (dropped bladder, rectum, uterus) that can accompany the SUI.

urethra-rest

                                     Image above: female urethra (woman in stirrups)–note that urethra points straight ahead, like the barrel of a rifle

urethra-strain

                             Image above: female urethra (woman in stirrups)– because of urethral hyper-mobility the urethra leaks at the moment she is asked to strain or cough

Finally, a digital examination is performed to assess vaginal tone and pelvic muscle strength (rated on a scale from 0-5). A bimanual exam (combined internal and external exam in which the pelvic organs are felt between internal and external examining fingers) checks for the presence of pelvic masses.

Depending on circumstances, tests to further evaluate SUI 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).                   

How is SUI managed?

There are a variety of treatment options for SUI, ranging from non-invasive strategies to surgery. There are no effective medications for SUI. If there is not an adequate response to first-line, non-invasive, conservative measures, surgery becomes an appropriate consideration. However, it is always sensible to initially use a conservative approach that is cost-effective, natural, uses few resources and is free from side effects.

Kegel Exercises for SUI

Kegels have emerged from obscure to mainstream…In fact the 2017 Oscar “swag bag” included a pelvic floor device called “The Elvie,” reviewed in my book THE KEGEL FIX.

 

one-sheet-poster

Combating SUI demands contracting one’s pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) strongly, rapidly and ultimately, reflexively. The goal of Kegels, a.k.a. pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is to increase PFM strength, power, endurance and coordination to improve urethral support and closure.

Who Knew? PFMT has the potential to improve or cure SUI in those who suffer with the problem and prevent it in those who do not have it.

The cough reflex is an automatic contraction of the PFMs above and beyond their resting tone when one coughs. This squeezes the urethra shut to help prevent leakage. This is nature’s way of protection against incontinence with a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, a defense against cough-related SUI. An extension of this principle is to exercise the PFMs to amplify strength and power to allow earlier activation and more robust contraction.

PFMT increases PFM bulk and thickness, reducing the number of SUI episodes. Additionally, PFMT improves urethral support at rest and with straining, diminishing the urethral hyper-mobility that is characteristic of SUI. It also permits earlier activation of the PFMs when coughing, more rapid repeated PFM contractions and more durable PFM contractions between coughs.

Who Knew? PFMT can cure or considerably improve 60-70% of women who suffer with SUI. The benefits persist for many years, as long as the exercises are adhered to on an ongoing basis. PFMT is equally effective for pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women with SUI.

Who Knew? PFMT is most effective in women with mild or mild-moderate SUI. Chances are that if the SUI is moderate-severe, PFMT will be less effective. However, if not cured, the SUI can be improved, and that might be sufficient.

Once the PFMs are conditioned via PFMT, it is vital to apply the improved conditioning on a practical basis. The cough reflex can be replicated—voluntarily—when one is in situations other than actual coughing that induce SUI. In order to do so, one needs to be attentive to the triggers that provoke the SUI. By actively contracting the PFMs immediately prior to the trigger exposure, the SUI can be improved or prevented. For example, if changing position from sitting to standing results in SUI, consciously performing a brisk PFM contraction—an intense contraction for 2-5 seconds prior to and during transitioning from sitting to standing—should “clamp the urethra” and help control the problem. Such bracing of the PFMs can be a highly effective means of managing SUI and when practiced diligently can become automatic (a reflex behavior).

More Non-Invasive Strategies to Improve SUI

Manage the condition that provokes the SUI: Since discrete triggers often provoke SUI (e.g., when asthma causes wheezing, seasonal allergies cause sneezing, or when tobacco use, bronchitis, sinusitis, or post-nasal drip cause coughing), by managing the underlying condition, the SUI can be avoided.

Moderate fluid intake: With a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, there will tend to be more SUI when there are larger volumes in the bladder (although SUI can occur even immediately after urinating). Since there is a direct relationship between fluid intake and urine production, any moderation in fluid intake will decrease the volume of urine in the bladder and potentially improve the SUI. The key is to find the right balance to diminish the SUI, yet avoid dehydration. Since caffeinated beverages and alcohol increase urine volume, it is best to limit exposure (caffeine is present in coffee, tea, cola and even chocolate has a caffeine-like ingredient).

Urinate regularly: Based on the premise that there tends to be more SUI when there are greater volumes in the bladder, by emptying the bladder more frequently, SUI can be better controlled. Urinating on a two-hour basis is usually effective, although the specific timetable needs to be individually tailored. Voluntary urinary frequency is more desirable than involuntary SUI. An extension of this principle is to empty one’s bladder immediately before any activity that is likely to induce the SUI.

Maintain a healthy weight: Extra pounds can worsen SUI by increasing abdominal pressure and placing a greater load on the pelvic floor and bladder. Even a modest weight loss may improve SUI.

Who Knew? Bearing the burden of unnecessary pounds adversely affects many body parts. As much as obesity puts a great strain on the knees that support the body’s weight, so it does on the PFM.

Exercise: Being physically active can go a long way towards maintaining general fitness and helping improve SUI. In general, exercises that emphasize the core muscles—particularly Pilates and yoga—are most helpful for SUI. Unfortunately, and ironically, it is exercise that often provokes SUI.

Tobacco cessation: Tobacco causes bronchial irritation and coughing that provoke SUI. Additionally, chemical constituents of tobacco constrict blood vessels, impair blood flow, decrease tissue oxygenation and promote inflammation, negatively affecting function of the bladder, urethra and PFMs. By eliminating tobacco, SUI can be significantly improved.

Maintain bowel regularity: Achieving bowel regularity may improve SUI and prevent it from progressing. A rectum full of stool can adversely affect urinary control by putting internal pressure on the bladder and urethra. Additionally, chronic straining with bowel movements—similar in many ways to being in “labor” every day—can have a cumulative effect in weakening PFMs and can be a key factor in the development of SUI. To promote healthy bowel function, exercise daily and increase fiber intake by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The tampon trick: If SUI occurs under very predictable circumstances—e.g., during tennis, golf or jogging—a strategically placed tampon can be a friend. The tampon is not used for absorption purposes, but to support the urethra. By positioning the tampon in the vagina directly under the urethra, it acts as a space-occupying backboard. The tampon does not need to be positioned as deeply as it would be for menstruation, but just within the vagina. This may allow one to pursue activities without the need for a pad. Poise has come out with “Impressa,” a tampon available in three sizes designed specifically for SUI. It is placed via an applicator and can be worn for up to eight hours. In Australia and the UK, “Contiform,” a self-inserted, foldable intra-vaginal device that is shaped like a hollow tampon, is often used to help manage SUI.

Surgical Management of SUI: Mid-urethral sling

sling

Image above is of a mid-urethral sling in place under the urethra to provide the support necessary to cure/substantially improve the stress urinary incontinence

If conservative measures fail to sufficiently improve SUI, there are solutions. A relatively simple outpatient procedure—the mid-urethral sling—is the implantation of a synthetic tape between the urethra and vagina to recreate the “backboard” of urethral support that is defective. This creates a “hammock” to provide support and to allow compression and pinching of the urethra with any activity that increases abdominal pressure.

The sling procedure is performed via a small vaginal incision. The permanent material used for the sling is polypropylene tape, the same material as used by general surgeons to repair groin hernias. Mid-urethral refers to the placement of the sling beneath the mid-urethra, the channel that leads from the bladder to the urinary opening. Sling refers to the configuration created when the tape is firmly anchored to the soft tissues of the pelvis after being placed underneath the urethra. The sling procedure has a 85-90% cure rate for 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. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from this book.  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.

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.

Kegels Go Hollywood: From Ben Wa Balls To The Elvie Pelvic Trainer

February 26, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/26/17

I do not ordinarily compose more than one blog entry per week, but Kegels Go Hollywood presented itself and is worthy of a timely discussion.

Photo below by Ivan Bandura [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commonsoscars_for_sale_6952722855

And the Oscar goes to….

arnold-kegel-gladser-studio-1953

Arnold Kegel MD (Gladser Studio, 1953)

“Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Fifty Shades of Darker” are not my cup of tea, although I confess to having read the first book to see what all the fuss was about.  According to The New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, the current “Fifty Shades of Darker” movie is lacking in thrills, “unless you count the nicely polished performance from a pair of love balls.” The movie popularizes the use of Ben Wa Balls, which apparently spend most of their time settled deeply in the vagina of female character Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson).

ben-wa

 Ben Wa Balls

Included in the swag bag of high-end gifts at tonight’s Oscars is a pelvic floor training device called the “Elvie.” Manufactured in the UK, Elvie is a sophisticated wearable, egg-shaped, waterproof, flexible device inserted vaginally. Pelvic floor muscle contraction strength is measured and sent via Bluetooth to a companion mobile app on a smartphone that provides biofeedback to track progress. Five-minute workouts are designed to lift and tone the pelvic floor muscles. The app includes a game designed to keep users engaged by trying to bouncing a ball above a line by clenching their pelvic floor muscles. The carrying case also serves as a charging device. Cost is $199 (Elvie.com).

elvie

Elvie Pelvic Training Device 

I have worked with the company that manufactures Elvie and recently wrote a blog for the Elvie website on the topic of “Myths about the pelvic floor.” To access, go to:

https://www.elvie.com/blog/12-myths-about-the-pelvic-floor-with-dr-siegel

As a physician, urologist, author and pelvic floor muscle training advocate, I am quite pleased by the newfound awareness and popularity accorded pelvic floor muscle training, a highly beneficial means of improving/maintaining pelvic, sexual, urinary and bowel health–despite its popularization in Hollywood.

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training

The vagina has its own set of intrinsic muscles (within its wall), which are further layered with the pelvic floor muscles (external to the vaginal wall). An intense pelvic floor muscle workout—albeit a pleasurable one made possible through devices like Ben Wa Balls or the Elvie—accords some real advantages to the participant. A stronger and better toned pelvic floor increases vaginal blood flow, lubrication, orgasm potential and intensity, the ability to clench the vagina as well as partner pleasure, overall increasing the potential for sexual gratification.  Of no less importance, a powerful pelvic floor also improves urinary and bowel control. Keeping the pelvic floor fit can prevent the onset of many sexual, urinary, bowel and other pelvic issues that may emerge with the aging process.

Love Balls 101

Motion-induced friction applied to the vaginal wall is one of the key factors leading to sexual pleasure.  Ben Wa Balls provide such friction and can be thought of as erotic toys as well as medical devices that are used to train the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. When exercise can be made pleasurable—not unlike playing tennis as opposed to working out in the gym—it unquestionably provides significant advantages.

There are numerous variations in terms of Ben Wa ball size (usually one to two inches in diameter), weight, shape, composition and number of balls. Some are attached to a string, allowing tugging on the balls to add more resistance. Another type has a compressible elastic covering that can be contracted down upon. Still others vibrate. There are some upscale varieties that are carved into egg shapes from minerals such as jade and obsidian.

Ben Wall Balls are classified under the general heading of vaginal weights, devices that are placed in the vagina and require pelvic floor muscle engagement in order that they remain in position and not fall out when the user is upright, providing resistance to contract down upon.

Ben Wa balls are not unlike vaginal cones, which consist of a set of weights that are of identical shape but vary in their actual weight. Initially, one places a light cone in the vagina and stands up and walks about, allowing gravity to come into play. Pelvic floor contractions are required to prevent the cone from falling out. The intent is to retain the weighted cone for fifteen minutes twice daily to improve pelvic strength.  Gradual progression to heavier cones challenges the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles to improve strength and tone. Ben Wa balls can be thought of as sexy versions of the vaginal cones.

vaginal-conesVaginal Cones

 

Sophisticated Pelvic Training Devices Like Elvie

There are many pelvic resistance devices on the market—some basic and simple, like Ben Wa balls and vaginal cones—but many newer ones are a “high tech” and sophisticated means of providing resistance, biofeedback and tracking, often via Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone. More information will follow about these complex devices in future blog entries.

Bottom Line: Pelvic floor muscle training can be done with or without resistance devices like Ben Wa balls, vaginal cones, and the more sophisticated devices such as the Elvie.  The use of resistance devices adds a dimension beyond what is achievable by contracting one’s pelvic muscles without resistance (against air).  From a medical and exercise physiology perspective, muscles increase in strength in direct proportion to the demands placed upon them and resistance exercise is one of the most efficient ways to stimulate muscular and metabolic adaptation.

The slang term “pussy” is often used to connote “weak” and “ineffectual.”  Anastasia Steele’s “vagina of steel” fashioned by using Ben Wa Balls as a vaginal resistance device clearly shows that this does not have to be the case!

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.  This book is 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, 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. Enjoy!

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

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. 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