Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Siegel MD’

“Butterflies” In Your Penis: What You Need To Know About Performance Anxiety/E.D.

April 14, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   4/14/18

“It is like a firstborn son—you spend your life working for him, sacrificing everything for him, and at the moment of truth he does just as he pleases.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love In the Time of Cholera

“The penis does not obey the order of its master, who tries to erect or shrink it at will. Instead, the penis erects freely while its master is asleep. The penis must be said to have its own mind, by any stretch of the imagination.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

brain-303186_1280.png

The brain is the biggest and most important sex organ, the “conductor of the orchestra

( Thank you, Pixabay, for image above)

 

Every man at one time or another may experience a situational erection problem due to  circumstances. As intoxicating and exciting as a new relationship can be, situational erection problems are not uncommonly experienced because of the anxiety and concerns that can surface when encountering a new sexual partner.  Additional contributing factors can be other life stresses, fatigue, too much alcohol consumption, recreational drugs, etc.

Men are human beings and not robots that can always function on command. It is not always easy to “stand and deliver” and, unquestionably, the lion’s share of the sexual “burden” is on the male.  In the circumstance of failure to achieve a good quality erection in a new sexual situation, it is not a matter of insufficient male rocket fuel (testosterone), poor sexual desire,  malfunctioning plumbing or sexual orientation.  It’s all about chemistry and by this I do not mean the attraction and spark kind of chemistry between two individuals.

The brain is the most important sex organ and the mind-body connection is profound. One’s emotional state drives the release of a “cocktail” of chemicals that can make or break their ability to perform any pursuit, whether it is giving a speech, sports or in the bedroom. When it comes to the bedroom, one’s internal “biochemical environment” at any given moment in time can chemically promote a bone-hard erection or, at times, no erection at all.  The problem is not with the hardware, but with the software!

Performance anxiety is nothing other than stage fright—the stage the bedroom—due to emotional stress (whether conscious or subconscious) that causes the release of adrenaline, the “flight or fright” chemical that causes tightening of blood vessels and restriction of blood flow to the penis.

Adrenaline is an amazing chemical to have onboard when you are in precarious situation, such as being chased by a lion in the jungle. It causes your pupils to dilate, blood pressure to rise and pulse and breath to quicken.  This stress hormone that is churned out by the adrenal glands prepares you to confront the danger in a turbo-charged state so that you can react optimally.  However, adrenaline causes a restriction of blood flow to non-vital organs including the penis, so that blood flow can be directed to where it best serves one to deal with the precarious situation. The point is that stress does not belong in the same sentence as sex, and when it does, it is a formula for a losing situation. For some men, the stress of having to wear a condom can doom the erection to failure.

Fact: On the occasion that a man has a prolonged erection (a.k.a. priapism) that lasts for more than four hours, an adrenaline-like drug is injected directly into the erectile chambers of the penis to cause the erection to subside. 

The chemistry of erections and performance anxiety

The chemistry of erections: With erotic stimulation or touch, the erectile nerves release nitric oxide, which in turn causes the release of cGMP. This causes the erectile chamber arteries to expand and blood to gush into the penis and also causes the smooth muscle of the erectile chambers to relax, allowing space for blood to fill the erectile chambers.  The chemistry of defeat: If enough adrenaline is present, the erectile arteries will narrow and the smooth muscle of the erectile chambers will contract. The presence of enough adrenaline trumps the presence of nitric oxide and cGMP.

The psychology of performance anxiety

What goes on in the man’s mind: Performance anxiety often “gets in the head” of the man plagued with it.   Excessively focusing and dwelling on the issue further decreases the likelihood of obtaining a rigid erection by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. When entering a sexual situation preoccupied with anxiety and doubts, one often ends up being a spectator of his own performance (Masters and Johnson referred to this as “spectatorating”), instead of being in the moment and present as one needs to be to be able to function properly, often dooming one’s erectile potential.

What goes on in the female’s mind: As they say, “It takes two to tango.”  Another big problem is the partner’s interpretation of the man’s inability to obtain and/or maintain an erection. The partner, confronted with the poorly functioning male, commonly thinks—erroneously– that the root of the problem is that the man does not sufficiently care for her,  find her attractive or that her sexual allure and proficiency is lacking.

So, the male not only has performance anxiety, but often experiences secondary anxiety from being consumed by the problem, creating a “vicious cycle.”  And the female now has anxiety and concerns about her looks, her skills in the bedroom, his feelings, the future of the relationship, etc.  This is clearly not a good combination for the start of a healthy relationship!  The truth of the matter is that the root of the problem is neither the man’s plumbing, his sexual orientation, nor his feelings about his partner and it is not a question of the female’s attractiveness, allure or sexual prowess.

Bottom Line: Performance anxiety is a common form of emotional stress that can be experienced with a new sexual partner.  Enter adrenaline in high enough levels and an erection will never occur, or if it does so, will rapidly be lost. Adrenaline may be your friend in life and death situations, but not in the bedroom!  Although oral ED medications (Viagra, Cialis, etc.) can chemically kick-start and often help counter performance anxiety and break the vicious cycle that has been established, adrenaline is such a powerhouse chemical that it can sometimes even doom an erection in a man who has taken performance-enhancing drugs.

The female in the relationship should understand that she is not the cause of the problem and she should not hold herself nor her partner accountable, which serves to further exacerbate the stress and anxiety.  Rather, she should stay calm, be understanding and supportive and realize that once her partner becomes more comfortable with the relationship, the anxiety and the problem will most often magically disappear.

Finally, it is important to understand that other common sexual issues, including premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation, elicit virtually the identical psychological and emotional responses from both male and female partners as does performance anxiety.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

 

 

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Pre-Cancerous Prostate Conditions: What To Do?

April 7, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD 4/7/18

A prostate biopsy is usually done because of a PSA (prostate specific antigen) elevation, PSA acceleration, abnormal prostate exam or abnormal MRI. The biopsy results can range from benign to malignant. There is a gray area between these two extremes, consisting of pre-malignant conditions. What follows is a brief review of two pre-cancerous conditions, HGPIN and ASAP and how to minimize the risk of developing prostate cancer. 

Basic Prostate Histology 101

Microscopically, the prostate gland is organized like a tree with a major trunk draining each prostate lobe, served by many ducts which progressively branch out into smaller and smaller ducts. At the end of each duct is an acinus (Latin, meaning berry), which is similar to a leaf at the end of a tree branch. Acini are lined by cells that secrete prostatic fluid, a nutrient vehicle for sperm that is an important component of semen. Each acinus is surrounded by a basement membrane that separates the cells that do the secreting from the surrounding structures.

Image below: benign prostate tissue

512px-Nodular_hyperplasia_of_the_prostate

Attribution: By Nephron (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Prostate biopsies are usually prompted by prostate cancer screening with PSA blood testing and digital rectal examination.  PSA elevation, PSA acceleration, abnormal prostate examination, abnormal prostate MRI, or follow up for prostate cancer or prostate precancerous conditions are the reasons why biopsies are performed.  There are four possible pathological outcomes from undergoing a prostate biopsy:

  1. benign
  2. HGPIN (High Grade Prostate Intra-Epithelial Neoplasia)
  3. ASAP (Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation)
  4. prostate cancer

What is HGPIN?

HGPIN is an acronym for High Grade Prostate Intra-Epithelial Neoplasia. The incidence of HGPIN between 0.6% and 24% of biopsies. It is a microscopic abnormality marked by an abnormal appearance and proliferation of cells within ducts and acini, but the abnormal cells do not extend beyond the basement membrane to other parts of the prostate (as occurs with prostate cancer).  HGPIN is considered a pre-malignant precursor lesion to prostate cancer.

Current recommendations for men who are found to have one site of HGPIN (unifocal HGPIN) are to follow-up as one would follow for a benign biopsy, with annual digital rectal exam and PSA.  However, if there are multiple biopsies indicating HGPIN (multifocal HGPIN), a repeat biopsy should be done in 6-12 months, with focused sampling of identified areas and adjacent sites. The more cores containing HGPIN on initial prostate biopsy, the greater the likelihood of cancer on subsequent biopsies. The risk for prostate cancer following the diagnosis of multifocal HGPIN is about 25%.

What is ASAP?

ASAP is an acronym for Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation. The incidence of ASAP ranges between 5% and 20% of biopsies. It is a microscopic abnormality marked by a collection of prostate acini that are suspicious but not diagnostic for prostate cancer, falling below the diagnostic “threshold.” The risk for cancer following the diagnosis of ASAP on re-biopsy is approximately 40%. All men with ASAP should undergo re-biopsy within 3 to 6 months, with focused sampling of identified areas and adjacent sites.

 Measures to Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer

  1. Maintain a healthy weight, as obesity has been correlated with an increased risk for prostate cancer occurrence, recurrence, progression and death. Research suggests a link between a high-fat diet and prostate cancer. In men with prostate cancer, the odds of metastasis and death are increased about 1.3-fold in men with a BMI of 30-35 and about 1.5-fold in men with a BMI > 35. Furthermore, carrying the burden of extra weight increases the complication rate following treatments for prostate cancer.
  2. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Eat realfood and avoid refined, over-processed, nutritionally-empty foods and be moderate with the consumption of animal fats and dairy. Processed meats and charred meats should be avoided.  A healthy diet should include whole grains and plenty of vegetables and fruits, particularly those that contain powerful anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vibrantly colorful fruits such as berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) contain abundant anthocyanins. Tomatoes and tomato products are rich in lycopenes. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale and cabbage) and dark green leafy vegetables are fiber-rich and contain lutein and numerous healthy phytochemicals.  A healthy diet should include protein sources incorporating fish, lean poultry and plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, and seeds. Include fish that have anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, e.g., salmon, sardines, and trout. Healthy fats (preferably of vegetable origin, e.g., olives, avocados, seeds and nuts) are preferred.  An ideal diet that is both heart-healthy and prostate-healthy is the Mediterranean diet.
  3. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol intake. Tobacco use has been associated with more aggressive prostate cancers and a higher risk of progression, recurrence and death.
  4. Stay active and exercise on a regular basis. Exercise has been shown to lessen one’s risk of developing prostate cancer and to decrease the death rate of those who do develop it. If one does develop prostate cancer, he will be in better physical shape and have an easier recovery from any intervention necessary to treat the disease.  Exercise positively influences energy metabolism, oxidative stress and the immune system.  Aerobic exercise should be done at least every other day with resistance exercise two to three times weekly.  Pelvic floor muscle exercises benefit prostate health by increasing pelvic blood flow and lessening the tone of the sympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system stimulated by stress), which can aggravate lower urinary tract symptoms. Additionally, pelvic floor muscle exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the prostate so that if one develops prostate cancer and requires treatment, they will experience an expedited recovery of urinary control and sexual function.
  5. Get checked out! Be proactive by seeing your doctor annually for a digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test. Abnormal findings on these screening tests are what prompt prostate biopsies, the definitive means of diagnosing prostate cancer. The most common scenario that leads to a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a PSA acceleration, an elevation above the expected incremental annual PSA rise based upon the aging process.
  6. Finasteride and Dutasteride, commonly used to treat benign prostate enlargement and male pattern hair loss, reduce the risk of prostate cancer and may be used for those at high risk, including men with a strong family history or those with pre-cancerous biopsies. These medications lower the PSA by 50%, so anyone taking this class of meds will need to double their PSA to approximate the actual PSA. If the PSA does not drop, or if it goes up while on these meds, it is suspicious for undiagnosed prostate cancer. By shrinking benign prostate growth, these medications also increase the ability of the digital rectal exam to detect an abnormality.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

Eat Your Way To Better Sex

March 31, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   3/31/18

images

Thank you, Max Pixel, for image above of a healthy salmon and salad meal (maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com)

You are what you eat…

Our cells and tissues require food for energy to fuel our body functions.   Equally as important, nutrients present in foods serve as the building blocks of our cells and our tissues during the process of remodeling, restructuring and refashioning–that occurs in all tissues including the genitals–as old cells are replaced by new cells.  While optimal sexual functioning is based on many factors, it is important to recognize that food choices play a definite role. What we eat—or don’t eat—can certainly impact our sex lives, and this is equally applicable to both men and women, even though this entry is geared towards men.

Sex is important…

Although not a necessity for a healthy life, sexuality is an important part of our human existence. Healthy male sexual function requires an adequate sex drive, the ability to obtain and maintain a reasonably rigid erection, and the capacity to ejaculate and experience a climax. When sexual functioning goes south, the aftermath can be a loss of confidence and self-esteem, embarrassment, a sense of isolation, frustration and, at times, depression. There is a good reason the word “cocksure” means possessing a great deal of confidence.

Sex is complicated…

Sexual functioning is complex and dependent upon a number of systems working in tandem– the endocrine system (which produces hormones); the central and peripheral nervous systems (which provide executive function and nerve control); the vascular system (which conducts blood flow); the smooth muscles (erectile tissue within the arteries and sinuses of the erectile chambers); and the skeletal muscles (the pelvic floor muscles that help maintain high penile blood pressures necessary for erectile rigidity).

A canary in your trousers…

Sexual function is an indicator of underlying cardiovascular health– Poor erections can be a warning sign that an underlying problem exists. On the other hand, the presence of rigid and durable erections is an indicator of overall cardiovascular health. Since the penile arteries are generally rather small (diameter 1-2 mms) and the coronary (heart) arteries larger (4 mms), it stands to reason that if vascular disease is affecting the tiny penile arteries, it may affect the larger coronary arteries as well—if not now, then at some time in the future. In other words, the fatty plaques that compromise blood flow to the smaller vessels of the penis may also do so to the larger vessels of the heart and thus erectile dysfunction may be considered a genital “stress test.”

A marvel of engineering…

A healthy sexual response is largely about blood flow to the genital and pelvic area. The penis is a marvel of engineering, uniquely capable of increasing its blood flow by a factor of 40-50 times over baseline, this surge happening within seconds and responsible for the remarkable physical transition from flaccid to erect. This is accomplished by relaxation of the smooth muscle within the penile arteries and erectile tissues. Pelvic muscle engagement and contraction help prevent the exit of blood from the penis, enhancing penile rigidity and creating penile blood pressures that far exceed normal blood pressure in arteries. For good reason, Gray’s Anatomy textbook over 100 years ago referred to one of the key pelvic floor muscle as the “erector penis.”

Like well-inflated tires…

Blood flow to the penis is analogous to air pressure within a tire: if there is insufficient pressure, the tire will not properly inflate and will function sub-optimally; at the extreme, the tire may be completely flat. Furthermore, slow leaks (that often occur with aging and failure of the smooth muscle within the penile arteries and erectile tissues to relax) promote poor function.  As your car declines in performance if it is dragging around too much of a load, so your penis can function sub-optimally if you are carrying excessive weight.

Obesity steals your manhood…

Abdominal fat (beer belly) is not just fat, but is a hormonally active organ that is chock full of the enzyme that converts the male hormone testosterone to the female hormone estrogen. Less testosterone translates to less sex drive and more estrogen often promotes man-boob development.  Obese men are also more likely to have fatty plaque deposits that clog blood vessels–including the arteries to the penis–making it more difficult to obtain and maintain erections. As the belly gets bigger, the penis appears smaller, lost in the protuberant roundness of a large midriff and the abundant pubic fat pad.  It is estimated that there is a 1 inch loss in apparent penile length for every 35 lb. of weight gain. So, if your sex drive is lagging, your penis is difficult to find, your man-boobs are prominent and your erections are not up to par, it may be time to rethink your lifestyle habits.

Those were the days, my friend, but now…

Do you remember the days when you could achieve a rock-hard erection—majestically pointing upwards—simply by seeing an attractive woman or thinking some vague sexual thought? Chances were that you were young, active, and had an abdomen that somewhat resembled a six-pack. Perhaps now it takes a great deal of physical stimulation to achieve an erection that is barely firm enough to be able to penetrate. Maybe penetration is more of a “shove” than a ready, noble, and natural access. Maybe you need pharmacological assistance to make it possible.  If this is the case, it is probable that you are carrying extra pounds, have a soft belly, and are not physically active. When you’re soft in the middle, you will probably be soft where it counts.  A flaccid penis is entirely consistent with a flaccid body and a hard penis is congruous with a hard body.

The Golden Rule: Treat your penis well and it will treat you well…

Healthy lifestyle choices are vital towards achieving optimal quality and quantity of life. It should come as no surprise that the initial approach to managing sexual issues is to improve lifestyle choices. These include healthy eating habits, keeping your weight down, exercising, sleeping adequately, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding tobacco and minimizing stress.

Bad choices…

Studies have shown that apart from known lifestyle risk factors, dietary practices such as decreased intake of vegetables and fruit and increased intake of unrefined and processed foods, dairy and alcohol are strongly associated with sexual difficulties in young men. Poor dietary choices with meals full of calorie-laden, nutritionally-empty selections (e.g., fast food, processed foods, excessive sugars or refined anything), puts one on the fast track to obesity and clogged arteries that can make your sexual function as small as your belly is big.

Good choices…

Healthy eating is important, obviously in conjunction with other smart lifestyle choices. Maintaining a healthy weight and fueling up with wholesome, natural, and real foods will help prevent weight gain and the build-up of harmful plaque deposits within blood vessels. Healthy fuel includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish. Animal products (meats and dairy) should be eaten moderately and when indulging, lean cuts are healthiest. A Mediterranean-style diet is ideal for optimizing health and minimizing sexual dysfunction and heart disease. Rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and lean protein sources (fish and chicken vs. red meat), the Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve sexual function, perhaps by alterations in glucose and fat metabolism and increasing anti-oxidant defenses, arginine levels and nitric oxide activity.

Bottom Line: If you want a “sexier” lifestyle, start with a “sexier” style of eating that will improve your overall health and make you feel better, look better and enhance your sexual function.  Smart nutritional choices are a key component of sexual fitness.

Wishing you the best of health!

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

 

 

 

Kegels-on-Demand: Use Them As Needed

March 24, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   3/24/2018

The concept of pelvic floor muscle training is not just to develop a strong and flexible pelvic floor, but also to put that capacity into practical use.  By knowing how to use your pelvic floor in real-life situations, you can improve your quality of life and many pelvic floor-related issues that may have surfaced over the years. This is the  essence of “functional fitness.”   Although this entry is primarily geared towards females, Kegels-on-demand on equally useful for men who have overactive bladder, stress incontinence, tension myalgia and premature ejaculation.

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

 

Putting Your Pelvic Floor Muscle Training Into Action: Kegels-on-demand

Functional pelvic fitness is the practical and actionable means of applying pelvic floor muscle (PFM) proficiency to common everyday activities to improve pelvic function. This encompasses the knowledge of how to contract and relax PFM muscles through their full range of motion in the real world (as opposed to isolated, out-of-context contractions), when to do so, how often do so and why to do so.  For many women, this is the essence of PFMT–having stronger and more durable PFM to improve their quality of life.  These purposeful and consciously applied PFM contractions are not intended as exercise or training—although they will secondarily serve that purpose—but as management of the various pelvic floor dysfunctions at the times and moments that the problems become apparent.  When practiced diligently, these targeted PFM contractions can ultimately become automatic and reflex behaviors.

“Gotta” Go: Urgency Management

When you feel the sudden and urgent desire to urinate or move your bowels, snap your PFM several times, briefly but intensively. When your PFM are so engaged, the bladder muscle reflexively relaxes and the feeling of intense urgency should disappear. Understand that this is most effective when the bladder or bowels are not full, but are contracting involuntarily.

Staying Dry

For urgency incontinence, prior to exposure to the specific provoking trigger—hand washing, key in the door, running water, entering the shower, cold or rainy weather, etc.—snap your PFM rapidly several times to preempt the involuntary bladder contraction before it occurs (or diminish or abort the bladder contraction after it begins).

With respect to stress urinary incontinence (SUI), by actively contracting the PFM immediately before exposure to the activity that prompts the SUI, the incontinence can be improved or prevented. For example, if changing position from sitting to standing results in SUI, do a brisk short duration PFM contraction prior to and when transitioning from sitting to standing to brace the PFM and pinch the urethra shut.

Keeping Your Insides In

If you have pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and have defined activities that cause the prolapsed pelvic organ to drop or protrude—often standing, bending or straining—engage the PFM prior to or during these triggers. If you need to manually reduce the POP (by pushing the prolapse in with your fingers), after doing so, consciously engage the PFM to maintain the prolapsed pelvic organ in its proper anatomical position.

Better Sex for You and Your Partner

Integrate your newfound PFM powers in the bedroom and intensify your sensation as well as his by tightening your vaginal “grip” around his penis during sexual intercourse.  Alternatively, you can pulse your PFM rhythmically while pelvic thrusting or pulse your PFM without pelvic thrusting, the snapping providing penile stimulation in the absence of active thrusting.

As you develop increasing PFM proficiency, you may be able to selectively contract individual PFM in isolation, simultaneously, or in such a sequence that can result in a titillating experience for both you and your partner. You may be able to develop as much fine motor control of your vagina as you have of your fingers and hands! At the time of sexual climax, focus on the involuntary rhythmic contractions of your PFM and try to heighten the experience by explosively contracting them.

Try This: “Pompoir” is a technique in which a woman contracts her PFM rhythmically to stimulate the penis without the need for pelvic motion or thrusting. Women who diligently practice Kegel training can develop powerful PFM and become particularly adept at this, resulting in extreme vaginal “dexterity” and the ability to refine pulling, pushing, locking, gripping, pulsing, squeezing and twisting motions, which can provide enough stimulation to bring a male to climax. 

Relaxing the High-strung Pelvic Floor

If you suffer with tension myalgia of the PFM, focus on consciously unclenching the PFM over the course of your day. Be particularly aware of the natural PFM relaxation that occurs when urinating or moving your bowels and strive to replicate that feeling of PFM release.

 Limber hip rotators,

A powerful cardio-core,

But forget not

The oft-neglected pelvic floor.

 

Wishing you the best of health!

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

 

 

Integrating Kegels With Other Exercises

March 17, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD     3/17/2018

Initially, it is important to isolate the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) and exercise them while not actively contracting any other muscle groups. Once PFM mastery is achieved, PFM exercises can then be integrated into other exercise routines, workouts and daily activities.

No Muscle is an Island

In real life, muscles do not work in isolation, but rather as part of a team. The PFM are no exception, often contracting in conjunction with the other core muscles in a mutually supportive way, co-activating to maintain lumbar-pelvic stability, help prevent back pain and contribute to pelvic tone and strength.

The core muscles—including the PFM—stabilize the trunk when the limbs are active, enabling powerful limb movements. It is impossible to use arm and leg muscles effectively in any athletic endeavor without engaging a solid core as a “platform” from which to push off. Normally this happens without conscious effort; however, with focus and engagement, the core and PFM involvement can be optimized. The stronger the core platform, the more powerful the potential push off that platform will be, resulting in more forceful arm and leg movements. Thus, maximizing PFM strength has the benefit of optimizing limb power.  Core training that exercises the abdominal/lumbar/pelvic muscles as a unit improves the PFM response. Many Pilates and yoga exercises involve consciously contracting the PFM together with other core muscles during exercise routines.

Integrating PFMT with Other Exercises

Dynamic exercises in which complex body movements are coupled with core and PFM engagement provide optimal support and “lift” of the PFM, enhance non-core as well as core strength and heighten the mind-body connection. When walking, gently contract your PFM to engage them in the supportive role for which they were designed, which will also contribute to good posture. Consciously contract the PFM when standing up, climbing steps, doing squats and lunges, marching, skipping, jumping, jogging, and dancing.  When cycling, periodically get up out of the saddle and contract your PFM to get blood flowing to the compressed pelvic muscles and perineum.

Integrating PFMT with Weight Training: “Compensatory” Pelvic Contractions

Weight training and other forms of high impact exercise result in tremendous increases in abdominal pressure. This force is largely exerted downwards towards the pelvic floor, particularly when exercising in the standing position, when gravity comes into play, potentially harmful to the integrity of the PFM.  Engaging the PFM during such efforts will help counteract the downward forces exerted on the pelvic floor.  “Compensatory” PFM contractions, in which the PFM are contracted in proportion to the increased abdominal pressure, are effective in balancing out the forces exerted upon the pelvic floor.

Wishing you the best of health!

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

 

 

 

Chronic Testes Pain

March 7, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD    3/7/2018

New Jersey is shut down because of the impending Nor’easter, surgery and office hours are cancelled, so I have plenty of free time and am going to post this entry today rather than on Saturday morning.

Orchialgia is medical-speak for chronic testes (ball) pain, defined as constant or intermittent pain perceived in the testicles, lasting for 3 or more months and interfering with one’s quality of life.  It is a not uncommon problem of men of all ages, but is more frequently seen in young adults.  It certainly keeps us busy in the office…some morning sessions seem like “ball clinics”!

Testes 101

4.0.4

Image above, public domain from Wikipedia

The testes are paired, oval-shaped organs that are housed in the scrotal sac. They have two functions, testosterone and sperm production.  Encased within the tough and protective cover of the testes (tunica albuginea) are tiny tubes called seminiferous tubules which make sperm cells.  The testes also contain specialized cells called Leydig cells that produce testosterone.  Sperm from the testes travels to the epididymis for storage and maturation. The epididymis empties into the vas deferens, which conducts sperm to the ejaculatory ducts.

The testes are suspended in the scrotal sac via the spermatic cord, a “rope” of tissue containing connective tissue, the vas deferens, the testes arteries, veins, lymphatics, and nerves. The spermatic cord is enveloped by tissues that are extensions of the connective tissue coverings of three of the abdominal core muscles. The most important of these coverings surrounding the spermatic cord is the cremaster muscle, which elevates the testes in a northern direction when it contracts.

The scrotal sac has several roles, packaging the testes as well as aiding in their function by regulating their temperature. For optimal sperm production, the testes need to be a few degrees cooler than core temperature.  The dartos muscle within the scrotal wall relaxes or contracts depending on the ambient temperature, allowing the testes to elevate or descend to help maintain this optimal temperature. Under conditions of cold exposure, the dartos contracts, causing the scrotal skin to wrinkle and to bring the testicles closer to the body.  When exposed to heat, dartos relaxation allows the testicles to descend and the scrotal skin to smoothen.

Good news/bad news:

The good news about the testes location dangling between one’s legs is is ready and easy access for examination, unlike the female counterpart (ovaries), which are within the abdomen.  This is one reason why testes cancer is so much easier to diagnose at an early stage than ovarian cancer.

The bad news is that their precarious location dangling between one’s legs as well as their delicate packaging in the thin sac makes them subject to trauma and injury.

Chronic orchialgia

Chronic testes pain can be caused by numerous different conditions and it is important to rule out the following possibilities:

  • Infection: An infection of the testes (orchitis), epididymis (epididymitis), both (epididymo-orchitis), or the spermatic cord (funiculitis). Infections can be bacterial, viral, and at times inflammatory without an actual infection.
  • Tumor: A benign or malignant mass of the testes or epididymis.
  • Groin hernia: A prolapse of intra-abdominal contents through a weakness in the connective tissue support of the groin.
  • Torsion: A twist of the testes or one of the testes or epididymal appendages.
  • Hydrocele: An excess fluid collection in the sac surrounding the testes.
  • Spermatocele: A cyst resulting from a blockage of one of the sperm ducts within the epididymis.
  • Varicocele: Varicose veins of the spermatic cord.
  • Trauma: Injury.
  • Prior operations: Groin hernias are most commonly associated with chronic testes pain; less commonly, vasectomies and any other type of groin or pelvic surgery.
  • Referred pain: Pain perceived in the testes, but originating elsewhere, e.g., a kidney stone that has dropped into the ureter, or a lower spine issue affecting the nerves to the testes.
  • Tendonitis: There are numerous muscles with tendons that insert into the pubic bone region that can be subject to injury and inflammation.
  • Pelvic floor muscle tension myalgia: Excessive muscle tension in these muscles can cause pelvic pain, including pain in the testes.
  • Idiopathic: This fancy medical term means that we are clueless about the origin of the pain. Unfortunately, many men have idiopathic orchialgia, a distressing and frustrating experience for both patient and urologist.

Evaluation

The evaluation of the patient with chronic testes pain includes a detailed history, a careful examination of the scrotal contents, groin and prostate, if necessary, as well as a urinalysis and possibly urine culture. It is helpful to obtain an ultrasound of the scrotum, a study which utilizes sound waves to image the testicle and epididymis. On occasion, it is warranted to obtain imaging studies of the upper urinary tract and pelvis and possibly a CT or MRI of the spine if there is back or hip pain.

Management

The management of chronic testis pain is directed at the underlying cause, although unfortunately this cannot always be precisely determined. Often, a course of antibiotics may prove helpful even if the physical findings are indeterminate.  Anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil and ibuprofen are often useful in the short-term management. Supportive, elastic jockey shorts as well as local application of a heating pad can be helpful. At times, amitriptyline or Neurontin can be helpful for neurologically-derived pain.  If the source of the pain is felt to be tension myalgia, referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist can be beneficial.  A referral to a pain specialist, typically an anesthesiologist who focuses on this discipline, can be advantageous.

An injection of a local anesthetic into the spermatic cord (spermatic cord block) can be a useful diagnostic test and a means of alleviating the pain.  If spermatic cord block proves successful in relieving the pain, it may be necessary to surgically denervate the spermatic cord, a procedure in which the nerve fibers in the spermatic cord are divided.  Under extremely rare circumstances, removal of the epididymis or the testicle is necessary. Often chronic testis pain remains elusive with the source undetermined and is thought to be similar to other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

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

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

 

Nuts and Bolts of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training: Part 4

March 3, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   3/3/2018

There are few, if any, pelvic programs in existence targeted for specific pelvic floor dysfunctions, as what you will generally find is a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

What follows are focused pelvic training programs, each designed for the nuances of the specific pelvic dysfunction at hand.  I have designed a general program as well as programs for poor pelvic muscle endurance, stress urinary incontinence (SUI), overactive bladder (OAB), pelvic organ prolapse (POP)/vaginal laxity, sexual/orgasm issues, bowel incontinence and pelvic pain. These programs have been carefully crafted based on my specialized training in pelvic medicine and surgery, clinical experience, interactions with physical therapists, exercise/fitness experts, Pilates and yoga instructors, and most importantly, my patients.

 General PFMT Program

The general program is a balanced program that incorporates strength and endurance training.  It is intended for women who are found to have poor PFM strength or poor strength and endurance on the preliminary testing. It is also appropriate for women without specific pelvic issues who wish to pursue a PFM exercise program to make their PFM stronger, more durable and to help prevent the onset of pelvic floor issues.

Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; with each week try to step up the intensity of the PFM contractions and duration of the short contractions; allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase; refer back to previous pages if you need a refresher on snaps, shorts and sustained.

 Week 1: snaps x20; 2-5 second shorts x15; 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

 Week 2: snaps x30; 2-5 second shorts x20; 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

 Week 3: snaps x40; 2-5 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

 Week 4: snaps x50; 2-5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 5 and on: Advance to resistance training. However, if you were severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot or prefer not to use resistance—which requires the placement of a device in your vagina—you can continue this as a “maintenance” program, consisting of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

 PFMT for Poor PFM Endurance

This program is designed for those with satisfactory PFM strength (Oxford grades 3-5), but poor endurance. The number of contractions performed and contraction duration are gradually increased over the course of the training program as adaptation occurs.

Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase.

 Week 1: snaps x15; 2 second shorts x15; 6 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

 Week 2: snaps x25; 3 second shorts x20; 8 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

 Week 3: snaps x35; 4 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

 Week 4: snaps x50; 5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x4 = 1 set 

 Week 5 and on: Advance to resistance training.  If you found yourself severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot/prefer not to use resistance (which requires the placement of a device in your vagina), you can continue this as a “maintenance” program consisting of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

PFMT for POP/Vaginal Laxity

Endurance training is especially relevant for those with POP and poor vaginal tone. Focusing on sustained contractions will benefit the slow twitch endurance PFM fibers that are the prime contributors to pelvic tone and support. 

 Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; with each successive week, work on stepping up the intensity of the PFM contractions; allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase.

 Week 1: snaps x20; 2-5 second shorts x15; 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

 Week 2: snaps x30; 2-5 second shorts x20; 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

 Week 3: snaps x40; 2-5 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

 Week 4: snaps x50; 2-5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x4 = 1 set 

 Week 5 and on: Advance to resistance training.  However, if you were severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot or prefer not to use resistance—which requires the placement of a device in your vagina—you can continue using this as a “maintenance” program, which will consist of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

PFMT for Sexual/Orgasm Issues

The PFM contract intensively at the time of climax with each contraction lasting about 0.8 of a second, about how long snaps last. A series of vigorous snaps is precisely the PFM contraction pattern experienced at the time of orgasm. If you have issues with achieving an orgasm or with orgasm intensity, this natural contraction pattern is replicated in this program, which focuses on high-intensity pulses of the PFM (snaps) that benefit the fast twitch explosive fibers.  Endurance training is also important for sexual function since sustained contractions benefit the slow twitch endurance PFM fibers that contribute to pelvic support and vaginal tone.    

Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; with each week work on stepping up the intensity of the snap PFM contractions; allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase.

Week 1: snaps x30; 2-5 second shorts x15; 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

Week 2: snaps x40; 2-5 second shorts x20; 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

Week 3: snaps x50; 2-5 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 4: snaps x60; 2-5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x4 = 1 set 

Week 5 and on: Advancing to the resistance training.  However, if you were severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot/prefer not to use resistance—which requires the placement of a device in your vagina—you can continue using this as a “maintenance” program, consisting of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

PFMT for SUI

Strength and power training are critical for managing SUI, with the power element (i.e., how rapidly you can maximally contract your PFM) vital in order to react quickly to SUI triggers.  Focusing on moderate intensity contractions that last for several seconds (shorts) will benefit SUI, as this type of PFM contraction deployed prior to and during any activity that induces the SUI will help prevent its occurrence.  Attention directed to these short contractions will allow earlier activation of the PFM with SUI triggers, as well as increased contraction strength and durability to counteract the sudden increase in abdominal pressure that induces SUI.  Effort applied to sustained contractions is equally important since the slow twitch endurance PFM fibers are prime contributors to pelvic tone and pelvic support of the urethra, which promote urinary continence.

Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; with each successive week try to step up the PFM contraction intensity as well as the activation speed (how long it takes to get to peak intensity); allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase.

Week 1: snaps x20; 5 second shorts x15; 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

Week 2: snaps x30; 5 second shorts x20; 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

Week 3: snaps x40; 5 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 4: snaps x50; 5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x4 = 1 set 

Week 5 and on: Advance to resistance training.  However, if you were severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot or prefer not to use resistance—which requires the placement of a device in your vagina—you can continue this as a “maintenance” program, which consists of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

PFMT for OAB and Urinary/Bowel Incontinence

Focusing on high-intensity pulses of the PFM (snaps) will benefit the fast twitch explosive fibers that are critical for inhibiting urinary and bowel urgency/urgency incontinence. These snaps will generate increased PFM strength and power to enhance the inhibitory reflex between PFM and the bladder/bowel, permitting a speedy reaction to urgency and facilitating the means to counteract urinary and bowel urgency, frequency and incontinence. Of equal importance is endurance training of the slow twitch, fatigue-resistant fibers that contribute to baseline tone of the voluntary urinary and bowel sphincters.

Perform the following: 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly; with each successive week try to step up the intensity of the PFM contractions; allot equal time to relaxing phase as contracting phase.

Week 1: snaps x20; 2-5 second shorts x15; 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

Week 2: snaps x30; 2-5 second shorts x20; 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

Week 3: snaps x40; 2-5 second shorts x25; 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 4: snaps x50; 2-5 second shorts x30; 10 second sustained x4 = 1 set 

Week 5 and on: Advance to resistance training.  However, if you were severely challenged by this non-resistance program or cannot/prefer not to use resistance (which requires the placement of a device in your vagina), you can continue using this as a “maintenance” program, which will consist of the Week 4 regimen performed twice weekly (as opposed to every other day).

PFMT for Pelvic Pain Due to Tension Myalgia: “Reverse” PFMT

Focusing on the relaxing aspect of the PFM contraction/relaxation cycle is the key to “down-train” the PFM from their over-tensioned, knot-like state. Those with over-contracted and over-toned PFM will not benefit from the typical strengthening PFMT done for most PFM dysfunctions—and can actually worsen their condition—so the emphasis here is on the relaxation phase of the PFM. This is “reverse” PFMT, conscious unclenching of the PFM in which the PFM drop and slacken as opposed to rise and contract. Reverse PFMT strives to stretch, relax, lengthen and increase the flexibility of the PFM. 

“Reverse” Kegels can be a confusing and difficult concept, particularly because these exercises demand conscious relaxation of the PFM, which only occurs subconsciously in real life. Recall that the PFM have a baseline level of tone and that complete PFM relaxation only occurs at the time of urination, bowel movements, passing gas or childbirth. 

To make this easier to understand, think of a PFM contraction on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being complete relaxation and 10 being maximal contraction. I have arbitrarily chosen 2 as the baseline level of PFM tone.  In reverse Kegel exercises you strive to go from 2 to 0 as opposed to standard exercises in which the effort is to go from 2 to 10.  When you urinate, move your bowels or pass gas, the PFM relax to a level of 0, so this is the feeling that you should strive to replicate, while continuing to breathe regularly without straining or pushing.  A deep exhalation of air will facilitate PFM relaxation, as it does for other muscle groups.

Perform the following: A very gentle PFM contraction to initiate PFM engagement, followed by deep relaxation and release of the PFM lasting as long as the contraction; 3 sets; one-minute break between each set; do 3-4 times weekly.

Week 1: reverse snaps x20; reverse 2-5 shorts x15; reverse 10 second sustained x1 = 1 set 

Week 2: reverse snaps x30; reverse 2-5 shorts x20; reverse 10 second sustained x2 = 1 set 

Week 3: reverse snaps x40; reverse 2-5 shorts x25; reverse 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 4: reverse snaps x50; reverse 2-5 shorts x30; reverse 10 second sustained x3 = 1 set 

Week 5 and on: There is no role for using resistance exercises for tension myalgia. Continue using this program as a “maintenance” program, consisting of the Week 4 regimen done twice weekly (as opposed to every other day). Make a concerted effort at keeping the PFM relaxed at all times, not just while pursuing the PFMT program.

…To be continued.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (the female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

When Sex Hurts (and Pain Replaces Pleasure)

February 24, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD    2/24/2018

Sex should be pleasurable and enjoyable, but sadly, that is not always the case.  Dyspareunia is doctor-speak for difficult or painful sexual intercourse, derived from dys, meaning “difficult” and the Greek term pareunos, meaning “lying with.” Although more typically a female complaint, dyspareunia does not spare the male gender.

ouch-147868_1280

Thank you Pixabay for image above

A Mechanistic View of Sexual Intercourse

A mechanical view of sexual intercourse is that it is an activity that involves moving parts that need to be lubricated and fit together properly for optimal function.  The “piston” component of an engine moves up and down within the “cylinder,” requiring appropriate fitting together of these component parts and sufficient lubrication to avoid excessive friction among the moving parts. “Piston clearance” is the clearance or gap between piston and cylinder.  If piston clearance is too small, the piston can “seize” inside the cylinder on expansion. If the pistons fits too tightly within the cylinder, it can result in excessive friction and damage to the cylinder wall.  The bottom line is that problems can arise if the piston does not properly fit the cylinder or if there is inadequate lubrication of contact points.

 Causes of Female Dyspareunia

  • Size discrepancy with partner – The vagina is an incredibly accommodating organ capable of tremendous stretch and expansion—think vaginal delivery of a 10-lb. baby—so this is relatively rare, but a woman with petite anatomy who couples with an outsized male can be a formula for pain. A lengthy penis can strike the cervix or vaginal fornix and a penis with formidable girth may prove excessive for a narrow vagina, resulting in “collision dyspareunia.”
  • Vaginal scarring – Scar tissue from pelvic or vaginal surgery, birth trauma, or poor healing of episiotomies can alter vaginal anatomy and make sexual intercourse painful and challenging.
  • Menopause – Estrogen nourishes and nurtures the genital tissues.  Declining levels of estrogen after menopause cause the vaginal walls to thin, become more fragile and less supple, and the amount of vaginal lubrication to diminish.
  • Infection – Vaginitis (vaginal infections), bacterial cystitis (bladder infection), interstitial cystitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infections of the paraurethral (Skene’s glands) can all give rise to pain.
  • Endometriosis –The lining tissue within the uterus called the endometrium can implant outside the uterus, causing painful intercourse.
  • Hypertonic pelvic floor – This is a condition–also called vaginismus– in which the pelvic floor muscles are taut and over-tensioned and fail to relax properly, which can cause painful intercourse, if sex is even possible.
  • Vulvodynia – This is a condition marked by hypersensitive vulvar tissues that are extremely tender to touch.
  • Loss of vaginal lubrication –  This can happen from menopause (natural or from surgery), side effects of medications, breast-feeding, as well as insufficient foreplay.
  • Disuse atrophy – Use it or lose it; if one has not been sexually active for prolonged times, there can be loss of tissue integrity and vaginal atrophy.   Staying sexually active keeps one’s anatomy toned and supple.
  • Urethral diverticulum – This is an acquired outpouching from the urethra channel that can cause a cystic mass in the vagina that can result in pain with sex.
  • Psychological/emotional – “The mind suffers…the body cries out.” Emotionally or physically traumatic sexual experiences can negatively affect future sexual experiences.

Causes of Male Dyspareunia

Urologists sometimes refer to male dysparenuia as “his-pareunia–not a legitimate medical word, but to the point!

  • Infections —Infections of the prostate (prostatitis) and urethra (urethritis) can cause pain with ejaculation.
  • Peyronie’s disease – Scarring of the sheath of the erectile cylinders gives rise to an angulated and often painful penis, particularly so with erections.
  • Phimosis — This is a condition is which the foreskin is tight and cannot be drawn back, leading to inflammation, pain and swelling.
  • Tethered frenulum — The frenulum is a narrow band of tissue that attaches the head of the penis to the shaft; at times it can tear during sexual intercourse, causing bleeding and pain.
  • Penile enlargement procedures – Efforts to “bulk up” the penis with injections of fat, silicone and other tissue or prosthetic grafts can result in an unsightly, lumpy, discolored, and painful penis.
  • Improperly sized penile implants – Penile implants can be lifesavers for the sexually non-functional or poorly functional male, but need to be sized precisely, like shoes for one’s feet.  If too large, they can result in penile pain and pain with sex.
  • Her issues causing his pain – Mesh exposure is a condition in which a mesh implant–used in females to help support dropped pelvic organs and to cure stress urinary incontinence–is “exposed” in the vagina, which feels on contact like sandpaper and can result in both female and male dyspareunia.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT): Part 3

February 17, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   2/17/2018

What follows in this and the next few blog entries are pelvic training programs that I have crafted based on my specialized training in pelvic medicine and surgery; clinical experience; and interactions with physical therapists, exercise/fitness experts, Pilates instructors, yoga instructors and most importantly, my patients. Programs have been designed to treat areas of pelvic floor muscle weakness, e.g., if strength is the issue, emphasis on strength training is in order, whereas if  pelvic stamina is the issue, focus on endurance training is appropriate.

There are few, if any, pelvic programs in existence that are designed for specific pelvic floor dysfunctions, as what is generally out there is a “one-size-fits-all” approach.  I have created “tailored” PFMT exercise routines, customized for the particular pelvic health issue at hand, including stress urinary incontinence (SUI), overactive bladder (OAB), pelvic organ prolapse (POP), sexual/orgasm issues and pelvic pain.

Program Flexibility

These programs are not designed with the intent that they be rigidly adhered to, as they can be customized to make them work for you, recognizing that every woman and every pelvic floor is unique. You can modify the programs and experiment with all variables—intensity, power, contraction and relaxation duration, number of reps and number of sets, with the ultimate objective of challenging the pelvic muscles to make them stronger, better toned, firmer, more flexible and healthier.

Do what feels right and works for you, building to your maximal potential over time. If you feel fatigued before completing the number of reps recommended, do as many quality contractions as you can do.  If you cannot maintain contraction intensity for the duration recommended, do the best you can. Three sets per session are ideal, but if you find this too challenging, you can do two sets, or even just one. If you find that completing 3 sets becomes a simple task, you can do 4 or 5 sets as your PFM become stronger and more durable.

The 3 Types of Pelvic Floor Muscle Contractions

There are three basic types of PFM contractions based upon the duration and intensity of the contraction.  Three “S” words make these contractions easy to remember: Snaps, Shorts and Sustained.

Snaps are rapid, high intensity pulses of the PFM that take less than one second per cycle of contracting and relaxing. These are the type of PFM contractions that occur involuntarily at the time of sexual climax, so should be easy to understand and perform.

Shorts are slower, less intense squeezes of the PFM that can last anywhere from two to five seconds (with equal time allotted to the relaxing phase).

Sustained PFM contractions are less intense squeezes that last ten seconds or longer (with an equal time in the relaxing phase).  These are the type of PFM contractions that you use when you have a strong desire to urinate or move your bowels but do not have access to a bathroom and must apply effort to “hold it in.”

Warming Up

Before starting the PFMT program, I recommend a warm-up week to practice and become familiar with snaps, shorts and sustained contractions. Do not start the formal PFMT until you feel comfortable with all three contractions. Do the Oxford strength and endurance testing to obtain baseline values before you begin the warm-up week.

If your Oxford grade is 0-2, consider yourself to have weak PFM. If you cannot do more than 20 snaps, 15 shorts or one-10 second sustained contraction, consider your endurance poor. If your PFM strength is good, but your endurance is poor, use the program tailored for poor endurance. If you have a specific pelvic dysfunction that you would like to focus on improving, use the program tailored to that specific dysfunction. If you suffer with more than one pelvic floor dysfunction, e.g., both pelvic organ prolapse  and stress urinary incontinence, determine which issue is most compelling and disturbing to you and start with that specific program. If you feel that the problems are equal in degree, complete one program followed in succession by the other.

Warm-Up Week: Do as many good quality snaps as possible until you feel that you can no longer do them with full intensity.  Take a short break and then do as many good quality shorts until you feel that your efforts are diminishing.  Finally, do a sustained contraction for as long as you can until fatigue sets in. After a short break, repeat the sustained contraction.  Do this warm-up every other day for this preliminary week before proceeding with the programs.

…To be continued in 2 weeks.  Next week’s entry will take a break from PFM training to cover “When Sex Hurts and Pain Replaces Pleasure.”

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (the female version is in the works): PelvicRx

 

The Nuts and Bolts of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT): Part 2

February 10, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD    2/10/18

This is a continuation of last week’s entry.  Remember, PFMT is equally appropriate for males as well as females –both genders have these important muscles that can benefit from whipping them into shape.

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The basic PFMT programs that follow are “low tech” exercises of the PFM without added resistance.  They can be thought of as PFMT 101, the goal of which is to provide the foundation for pelvic muscle proficiency. After mastery of basic PFMT, progression to the next phase of conditioning—resistance training—is in order.

PFMT is the essence of “functional fitness,” exercises that develop PFM strength, power, stamina and the skillset that can be used to improve and/or prevent specific pelvic functional impairments. PFMT regimens must be flexible and nuanced, designed and customized with particular functional needs in mind, i.e., issues of pelvic support, urinary control, sexual function, pain, etc., as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.  An additional consideration is baseline PFM strength and stamina.  After determining an area of weakness, focused effort should be applied to this deficit.

Time to Begin

You do not need to go to a gym, wear athletic clothing, have any special equipment, or dedicate a great deal of time to PFMT. It is vital to do properly performed, quality PFM contractions with the goal of slow and steady progress. Experiencing some aching and soreness as you begin is not uncommon.

If you are pursuing PFMT for specific pelvic issues, expect that it may take a number of weeks or more to see an improvement in your symptoms.  After you have noticed a beneficial effect, the exercise regimen must be maintained, because regression can occur if the pelvic muscles are not consistently exercised…”use it or lose it” applies here.

Basic PFMT exercises can be performed lying down, sitting upright in a comfortable chair with your back straight, or standing. It is best to begin lying down, to minimize gravity, which makes the exercises more challenging. Regardless of position, it is essential to maintain good form, posture and body alignment while doing PFMT. It is important to relax your abdomen, buttocks and thighs. Breathe slowly and do not hold your breath. Even though no muscle group works alone, by trying to isolate the PFM and focusing on squeezing only the PFM, you will make more rapid progress. You should not be grimacing, grunting or sweating, as PFMT is, in part, a meditative pursuit that employs awareness, focus, mindfulness and intention while performing deliberate contractions of the PFM.

Helpful metaphor: “Snap” describes a brief, vigorous, well-executed contraction of the PFM. With increasing PFM command, these pelvic muscles can be “snapped” like your fingers.

There are six variables with respect to PFM contractions:

  1. contraction intensity
  2. contraction duration
  3. relaxation duration
  4. power
  5. repetitions
  6. sets

Contraction intensity refers to the extent that the PFM are squeezed, ranging from a weak flick of the muscles to a robust and vigorous contraction. The contraction duration is the amount of time that the squeeze is sustained, ranging from a “snap”—a rapid pulsing of the PFM, to a “sustained hold”—a long duration contraction. The relaxation duration is the amount of time the PFM are unclenched until the next contraction is performed. Power is a measure of contraction strength and speed, the ability to rapidly achieve a full intensity contraction. Repetitions (reps) are the number of contractions performed in a single set (one unit of exercise).

It is relatively easy to intensively contract your PFM for a brief period, but difficult to maintain that intensity for a longer duration contraction. It is unlikely that you will be able to maintain the intensity of contraction of a sustained hold as you would for a snap.

The better PFMT regimens utilize a combination of snaps, few-second contractions and sustained duration contractions to reap the benefits of both strength and endurance training.

Fact: Short duration, high intensity contractions build strength and power, whereas longer duration, less intense contractions will build endurance, both vital elements of fit PFM.

Incremental change—the gradual and progressive increase in the intensity of contraction, duration of contraction, number of reps and number of sets performed—is the goal.  Performing the program 3-4 times weekly is desirable since recovery days are important for skeletal muscles.

PFMT is not an extreme program; nonetheless, it is by no means an undemanding program, and certainly requires effort and perseverance.  Depending on your level of baseline PFM fitness, you may find the exercises anywhere in the range from relatively easy to quite challenging. Your PFM are unique in terms of their shape, size and strength and consequently expectations regarding results will vary from individual to individual.

After a month or so, you should be on your way to achieving basic conditioning of the PFM. Reassessing the PFM by repeating the Oxford grading and the PFM endurance tests that you measured at baseline should demonstrate objective evidence of progress. More importantly, you should start noticing subjective improvement in many of the domains that PFM fitness can influence.  Once you have mastered non-resistance training, it is time to move on to resistance training, in which you squeeze your PFM against the opposing force of resistance in an effort to accelerate the PFMT.

If you are challenged by the non-resistance PFMT or cannot or prefer not to use resistance—which for women requires the placement of a device in your vagina and for men the ability to achieve a rigid erection—you can continue with the non-resistance training using it as a “maintenance” program.  PFM maintenance training typically requires continuing with the PFMT program, but performing it less frequently, twice weekly usually being sufficient.

To be continued next week…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

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

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

 MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx