Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Kegel MD’

DON’T Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles… TRAIN Them

April 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/1/2017

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

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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.

The Female Love Muscles

January 7, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD 1/7/16

Optimal muscle functioning is integral to sexual activity. There would be no “jump” in the term “jump one’s bones” without fit muscles that permit the coordinated movements and muscle contractions that are necessary to engage in sexual coupling.

The following is a short poem I have composed about the muscles of love:

 Limber hip rotators,

A powerful cardio-core,

But forget not

The oft neglected pelvic floor.

Sex is a physical activity involving numerous muscles that coordinate with seamless efficiency. Sexual activity demands movement, a synchronized kinetic chain integrating core muscles and external hip rotators in which both pelvic thrusting and outward rotation of the hips work effectively together to forge a choreographed motion. It is a given that cardiac (aerobic) conditioning is a prerequisite for any endurance athletic endeavor, including SEX-ercise.

Three muscle groups are vital for optimal sexual function—core muscles, which maintain stability and provide a solid platform to enable pelvic thrusting; external hip rotators, which rotate the thighs outward and are the motor behind pelvic thrusting; and the floor of the core muscles—pelvic floor muscles (PFM), which provide pelvic tone and support, permit tightening and relaxing of the vagina, support clitoral erection, and contract rhythmically at the time of climax. When these three groups of muscles are in tiptop shape, sexual function is optimized.

The core muscles are a cylinder of torso muscles that surround the innermost layer of the abdomen. They function as an internal corset and shock absorber. In Pilates they are aptly referred to as the “powerhouse,” providing stability, alignment and balance, but also allowing the extremity muscles a springboard from which to push off and work effectively. It is impossible to use your limbs without engaging a solid core and, likewise, it is not possible to use your genitals effectively during sex without engaging the core muscles.

Who Knew? According to the book “The Coregasm Workout,” 10% of women are capable of achieving sexual climax while doing core exercises. It most often occurs when challenging core exercises are pursued immediately after cardio exercises, resulting in core muscle fatigue. 

Rotation of your hips is a vital element of sexual movement. The external rotators are a group of muscles responsible for lateral (side) rotation of your femur (thigh) bone in the hip joint. My medical school anatomy professor referred to this group of muscles as the “muscles of copulation.” Included in this group are the powerful gluteal muscles of your buttocks.

Who Knew? Not only do your gluteal muscles give your bottom a nice shape, but they also are vital for pelvic thrusting power.

The PFM make up the floor of the core. The deep layer is the levator ani (“lift anus”), consisting of the pubococcygeus, puborectalis, and iliococcygeus muscles. These muscles stretch from pubic bone to tailbone, encircling the base of the vagina, the urethra and the rectum. The superficial layer is the bulbocavernosus, ischiocavernosus, transverse perineal muscles and the anal sphincter muscle.

The following two illustrations are by Ashley Halsey from The Kegel Fix:

2.deep PFM 3. superficial and deep PFM

The PFM are critical to sexual function. The other core muscles and hip rotators are important with respect to the movements required for sexual intercourse, but the PFM are unique as they directly involve the genitals. During arousal they help increase pelvic blood flow, contributing to vaginal lubrication, genital engorgement and the transformation of the clitoris from flaccid to softly swollen to rigidly engorged. The PFM enable tightening the vagina at will and function to compress the deep roots of the clitoris, elevating blood pressure within the clitoris to maintain clitoral erection. An orgasm would not be an orgasm without the contribution of PFM contractions.

Who Knew? Pilates—emphasizing core strength, stability and flexibility—is a great source of PFM strength and endurance training. By increasing range of motion, loosening tight hips and spines and improving one’s ability to rock and gyrate the hips, Pilates is an ideal exercise for improving sexual function.

PFM Training to Enhance Sexual Function: The Ultimate Sex-ercise

The PFM are intimately involved with all aspects of sexuality from arousal to climax. They are highly responsive to sexual stimulation and react by contracting and increasing blood flow to the entire pelvic region, enhancing arousal. Upon clitoral stimulation, the PFM reflexively contract. When the PFM are voluntarily engaged, pelvic blood flow and sexual response are further intensified. During climax, the PFM contract involuntarily in a rhythmic fashion and provide the muscle power behind the physical aspect of an orgasm. The bottom line is that the pleasurable sensation that one perceives during sex is directly related to PFM function and weakened PFM are clearly associated with sexual and orgasmic dysfunction.

PFM training improves PFM awareness, strength, endurance, tone and flexibility and can enhance sexual function in women with desire, arousal, orgasm and pain issues, as well as in women without sexual issues. PFM training helps sculpt a fit and firm vagina, which can positively influence sexual arousal and help one achieve an orgasm. PFM training results in increased muscle mass and more powerful PFM contractions and better PFM stamina, heightening the capacity for enhancing orgasm intensity and experiencing more orgasms as well as increasing “his” pleasure. PFM training is an excellent means of counteracting the adverse sexual effects of obstetrical trauma. Furthermore, PFM training can help prevent sexual problems that may emerge in the future.  Tapping into and harnessing the energy of the PFM is capable of improving one’s sexual experience. If the core muscles are the “powerhouse” of the body, the PFM are the “powerhouse” of the vagina.

Bottom Line: Strong PFM = Strong climax. The PFM are more responsive when better toned and PFM training can revitalize the PFM and instill the capacity to activate the PFM with less effort. PFM training can lead to increased sexual desire, sensation, and sexual pleasure, intensify and produce more orgasms and help one become multi-orgasmic. Women capable of achieving “seismic” orgasms most often have very strong, toned, supple and flexible PFM. Having fit PFM in conjunction with the other core muscles and the external hip rotators translates to increased self-confidence.

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

 

 

Even More About Pelvic Prolapse: Diagnosis & Treatment

October 29, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/29/2016

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

 How is POP diagnosed and evaluated?

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

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

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

box

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

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

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

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

 

exam-relaxed

Image above shows vaginal exam at rest (mild prolapse)

exam-minor-strain

Image above shows vaginal exam with straining (moderate prolapse)

exam-full-streain

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

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

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

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

cystogram-normal

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

cd-cystocele

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

How is POP treated?

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

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

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

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

512px-pessaries

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

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

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

PFM Training (PFMT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

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

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

More About Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

October 22, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/22/2016

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

How Much Of A Vaginal Bulge Can POP Cause?

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

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

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

Which Organs Does POP Affect?

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

Urethra

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

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

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

Bladder

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

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

untitled

Cystocele

Rectum

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

rectocele

Rectocele with perineal laxity

Perineum

Often accompanying a rectocele is perineal muscle laxity, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. Weakness in these muscles can cause the following anatomical changes: a widened and loose vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal orientation such that the vagina assumes a more upwards orientation as opposed to its normal downwards angulation towards the sacral bones.

Women with vaginal laxity who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina, making intercourse less satisfying for themselves and their partners. This may lead to difficulty achieving orgasm, difficulty retaining tampons, difficulty accommodating and retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, the vagina filling with water while bathing and vaginal flatulence (passing air through the vagina). The perception of having a loose vagina can often lead to low self-esteem.

Small Intestine

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

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

enterocele

Enterocele

Uterus

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

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

 

uterus

Uterine prolapse

ulcerated-procidentia

Severe uterine prolapse (procidentia) with ulcerative inflammation surrounding cervix

Vagina

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

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

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

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

What’s That Bulge Coming Out Of My Vagina?

October 15, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD   10/15/2016

untitled

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

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

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

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

The bony pelvis provides the infrastructure to support the pelvic organs and to allow childbirth. Adequate “closure” is needed for pelvic organ support, yet sufficient “opening” is necessary to permit vaginal delivery. The female pelvis evolved as a compromise between these two important, but opposing functions.

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

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

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

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

 

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

September 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel  MD  9/24/2016

Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew L. Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health, Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

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

 

 

 

 

Loose (Vaginal) Lips Sink Ships

September 17, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 9/17/2016

-Loose_lips_might_sink_ships-_-_NARA_-_513543

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

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

Obstetrical Factors Can CauseLoose Lips”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sink Ships”

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

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

–Allyson, age 38

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

–Leah, age 43

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

–Karen, age 66

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

–Brittany, age 29

How “Loose Lips” Affect You and Your Partner

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

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

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

 Women with “loose lips” often have difficulty in “accommodating” the penis properly, resulting in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it, with the end result being diminished sensation for both partners. Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner vaginal lips, there will be limited clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom.

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Mystique Of The Pelvic Floor Muscles (PFM)

August 27, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 8/27/16

1.core muscles

 Note that PFM form floor of the “barrel” of core muscles. Illustration by Ashley Halsey from THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health

Our bodies are comprised of a variety of muscle types: There are the glamour, overt, seen-and-be-witnessed muscles that offer no secrets, the “what you see is what you get” muscles. Then there are muscles that are shrouded in secrecy, hidden from view, veiled from sight, concealed and covert. The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are in the latter category.

Strong puritanical cultural roots influence our thoughts and feelings about our nether regions. Consequently, the genital and anal zones often fail to command the respect and attention that other areas of our bodies command. Frequently ignored and/or neglected, this locale rarely sees the light of day and most people never think about exercising the important functional muscles in this anatomical sector.

Most women and men can probably point out their “bi’s” (biceps), “tri’s” (triceps), “quads” (quadriceps), “pecs” (pectorals), etc., but who really knows where their “pelvs” (PFM) are located? For that matter, who even knows what they are and how they contribute to pelvic health? Think for a moment about the PFM…How essential—yet taken for granted—are sphincter control, support of your pelvic organs and, of course, their key contribution to sexual function?

Unlike the glitzy, for show, external, mirror-appealing glamour muscles, the PFM are humble muscles that are unseen and behind the scenes, often unrecognized and misunderstood. Cloaking increases mystique, and so it is for these PFM, not only obscured from view by clothing, but also residing in that most curious of nether regions—the perineum—an area concealed from view even when we are unclothed. Furthermore, the mystique is contributed to by the mysterious powers of the PFM, which straddle the gamut of being vital for what may be considered the most pleasurable and refined of human pursuits—sex—but equally integral to what may be considered the basest of human activities—bowel and bladder function.

The PFM are hidden gems that work diligently behind the scenes and on a functional basis you would be much better off having “chiseled” PFM as opposed to having “ripped” external muscles.” Tapping into and harnessing the energy of the PFM—those that favor function over form, “go” rather than “show”—is capable of providing significant benefits. The PFM are the floor of the core muscles and seem to be the lowest caste of the core muscles; however, they deserve serious respect because they are responsible for very powerful functions, particularly so when intensified by training. The PFM are among the most versatile muscles in our body, contributing to the support of our pelvic organs, control of bladder and bowel, and sexual function. Although the PFM are not muscles of glamour, they are muscles of “amour.”

Bottom Line: You can’t see your PFM in the mirror. Because they are out of sight and out of mind, they are often neglected or ignored, but there is great merit in exercising vital hidden muscles, including the heart, diaphragm and PFM. This goes for men as much as it does for women, since in both genders these muscles provide vital functions and are capable of being enhanced with training.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pelvic Floor Issues In Women

August 13, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  8/13/16

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are integral in maintaining healthy pelvic anatomy and function. When PFM impairments develop, there are typically one or more of five consequences:

  1. Urinary control issues
  2. Bowel control issues
  3. Sexual issues
  4. Pelvic organ prolapse and vaginal laxity
  5. Pelvic pain

25% of women have symptoms due to weak PFM and many more have weak PFM that is not yet symptomatic. Others have symptoms due to PFM that are taut and over-tensioned. More than 10% of women will undergo surgery for pelvic issues—commonly for stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.) and pelvic organ prolapse (sagging of the pelvic organs into vaginal canal and at times outside vagina)—with up to 30% requiring repeat surgical procedures.

The following quotes from patients illustrate the common pelvic issues:

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

–Brittany, age 29

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

–Allyson, age 38

“As soon as I get near my home, I get a tremendous urge to empty my bladder. I have to scramble to find my keys and can’t seem to put the key in the door fast enough. I make a beeline to the bathroom, but often have an accident on the way.”

–Jan, age 57

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

–Leah, age 43

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

–Karen, age 66

 “I have been experiencing on and off stabbing pain in my lower abdomen, groin and vagina. It is worse after urinating and moving my bowels. Sex is usually impossible because of how much it hurts.”

–Tara, age 31

These issues come under the broad term pelvic floor dysfunction, common conditions causing symptoms that can range from mildly annoying to debilitating. Pelvic floor dysfunction develops when the PFM are traumatized, injured or neglected. Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), a.k.a. “Kegels,” has the capacity for improving all of these situations.

PFM fitness is critical to healthy pelvic function and is an important element of overall health and fitness. PFMT is a safe, natural, non-invasive, first-line self-improvement approach to pelvic floor dysfunction that should be considered before more aggressive, more costly and riskier treatments. We engage in exercise programs for virtually every other muscle group in the body and should not ignore the PFM, which when trained can become toned and robust, capable of supporting and sustaining pelvic anatomy and function to the maximum. Should one fail to benefit from such conservative management, more aggressive options always remain available.

PFMT can be beneficial for the following categories of pelvic floor dysfunction:

  • Weakened pelvic support (descent and sagging of the pelvic organs including the bladder, urethra, uterus, rectum and vagina itself)
  • Vaginal laxity (looseness)
  • Altered sexual and orgasmic function
  • Stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing and exertion)
  • Overactive bladder (the sudden urge to urinate with leakage often occurring before being able to get to the bathroom)
  • Pelvic pain due to PFM spasm
  • Bowel urgency and incontinence.

Additionally, PFMT improves core strength, lumbar stability and spinal alignment, aids in preventing back pain and helps prepare one for pregnancy, labor and delivery. PFMT can be advantageous not only for those with any of the previously mentioned problems, but also as a means of helping to prevent them in the first place. Exercising the PFM in your 20s and 30s can help avert problems in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.

Bottom Line: Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common problem that causes annoying symptoms that interfere with one’s quality of life. It is often amenable to improvement or cure with a Kegel pelvic exercise program. There are numerous benefits to increasing the strength, tone, endurance and flexibility of your PFM. Even if you approach public training with one specific functional goal in mind, all domains will benefit, a nice advantage of conditioning such a versatile group of muscles.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

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