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

March 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD   3/11/17

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“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

 

Female Bladder Works

February 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   2/11/17

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

                          6. bladder

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

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

Bladder Control Issues—More Than Just a Physical Problem

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

Bladder Function 101

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

Capacity

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

Elasticity

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

Sensation

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

Contractility

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

Timing

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

Anatomical Position

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

Urethra

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

Sphincters

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

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

Nerves

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

Bladder Reflexes

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health: http://www.TheKegelFix.com

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

Penis Stretching (Traction Therapy): What You Should Know

February 4, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/4 /17

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

traction

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

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

 

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

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

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

Situations That May Benefit From Penile Traction

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

 What Are The Commercially Available Penile Traction Devices?

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

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

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

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Image above: PenimasterPro

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

Resources for this entry:

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Male Sexual Enhancement Supplements: Don’t Waste Your Money

January 28, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  1/28/17

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

snake-oil

Image above from Wikipedia Commons, public domain

 

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

Testosterone Update 2017: Untangling The Web

January 21, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD   1/21/17

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

t

What are the 3 best predictors of TD?

1. Decreased sex drive

2. Erectile dysfunction (ED)

3. Decreased frequency of morning erections

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

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

Why does TD occur?

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

Not an Exact Science

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

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

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

T and Prostate Cancer

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

T and Cardiac Disease

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

T and Fertility

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

TD Treatment

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

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

Adverse Effects of T Treatment

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

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

Ongoing Treatment

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful

January 14, 2017

Andrew Siegel  MD    1/14/2016

shutterstock_145680893

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

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

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

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

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

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful:

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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