Posts Tagged ‘pelvic floor muscles’

When Ejaculation Goes South

September 1, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   9/1/2018

Ejaculation issues can be bothersome and distressing and sometimes even relationship-threatening. Most men do not particularly care for meager, weak-intensity ejaculation and orgasm, or if the process occurs too rapidly, or too slowly, or not at all. Functioning sexually—the ability to achieve a reasonable erection, ejaculate, climax and satisfy one’s partner—retains its importance no matter what our age.

Penis art

Artwork above is photo taken of drawing in Icelandic Phallological Museum in Reykjavik

 

The word ejaculation (from ex, meaning “out” and jaculari, meaning “to throw, shoot, hurl, cast”) is defined as the discharge of semen from the urethral channel, usually accompanied by orgasm.

A Few Words on the Science of Ejaculation

Nerve input from the brain and the penis is integrated in the spinal ejaculatory center. Ejaculation occurs after sufficient intensity and duration of sexual stimulation passes an “ejaculatory” threshold—the “point of no return.”  The phases of ejaculation are emission and expulsion.  Emission releases pooled reproductive gland secretions into the urethra and expulsion propels these secretions via rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor muscles.

The spinal ejaculatory center is controlled mainly by the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin inhibits ejaculation whereas dopamine facilitates it. One’s balance of these neurotransmitters is determined by genetics and other factors including age, stress, illness, medications, etc.

The processes of obtaining a rigid erection and ejaculating are separate, even though they typically occur at the same time. When the two processes harmonize, ejaculation is more satisfying.  This is so because the urethra functions as the “barrel” of the penile “rifle,” surrounded by spongy erectile tissue that constricts and pressurizes the “barrel” to optimize ejaculation and promote the forceful expulsion of semen.

Fact: It is possible to have a rock-hard erection and be unable to ejaculate, and conversely, to be able to ejaculate with a flaccid penis.

The pelvic floor muscles play a key role in ejaculation. The bulbocavernosus muscle engages when one has an erection and becomes maximally active at time of ejaculation. It is a compressor muscle that surrounds the spongy erectile tissue that envelops the urethra and contracts rhythmically at the time of ejaculation, sending wave-like pulsations rippling down the urethra to forcibly propel the semen, providing the power behind ejaculation.

Ejaculation Problems

Although premature ejaculation is often a problem of younger men, many of the other ejaculation issues correlate with aging, weight gain, the presence of prostate symptoms and erectile dysfunction. As we age, there is a decline of sensory nerve function, weakening of pelvic floor muscles, and diminished fluid production by the reproductive glands. Furthermore, medications and surgery that are used to treat prostate issues can profoundly affect ejaculation.

“It happens too fast”

Premature ejaculation (PE) is a condition in which sexual climax occurs before, upon, or shortly after vaginal penetration, prior to one’s desire to do so, with minimal voluntary control. It is the most common form of ejaculatory dysfunction. It often happens in less than one minute and leads to dissatisfaction, distress and frustration of the sufferer and his partner.

In a study of over 1500 men, The Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that the average time between penetration and ejaculation for a premature ejaculator was 1.8 minutes, compared to 7.3 minutes for non-premature ejaculators.

PE can be psychological and/or physical and can occur because of over-sensitive genital skin, hyperactive reflexes, extreme arousal or infrequent sexual activity. Other factors are genetics, guilt, fear, performance anxiety, inflammation and/or infection of the prostate or urethra, and can be related to the use of alcohol or other substances. It is very typical among men during their earliest sexual experiences.

PE can be lifelong or acquired and sometimes occurs on a situational basis. Lifelong PE is thought to have a strong biological component. Acquired PE can be biological, based on inflammation/infection of the reproductive tract or psychological, based upon situational stressors. PE can sometimes be related to erectile dysfunction, with the rapid ejaculation brought on by the desire to climax before losing the erection.

A variety of measures can be used to overcome PE. Slowing the tempo requires one to develop awareness of the sensation immediately before ejaculation. By slowing the pace of pelvic thrusting and varying the angle and depth of penetration before the “point of no return” is reached, the feeling of imminent ejaculation can dissipate. If slowing the tempo is not sufficient to prevent the PE, one may need to pause and stop thrusting so that the ejaculatory “urgency” goes away. Once the sensation subsides, thrusting is resumed. The squeeze technique, originated by Masters and Johnson, consists of withdrawal before ejaculation, squeezing the penile head until the feeling of ejaculation passes, after which intercourse is resumed. Although effective, it requires interruption and a cooperative partner. Pelvic floor muscle contractions are a less cumbersome alternative to the squeeze technique. Thrusting is paused temporarily and a sustained pelvic muscle contraction is performed, essentially an internal “squeeze” (without the external hand squeeze) that short-circuits the PE.

Other methods include using thick condoms to decrease sensitivity, or alternatively, topical local anesthetics can be applied to the penis before intercourse. Another desensitization technique is more frequent ejaculation, since PE tends to be more pronounced after longer periods of sexual abstinence. Pre-emptive masturbation prior to engaging in sexual intercourse may help achieve this. Erectile dysfunction medications can be helpful for acquired PE that is due to erectile dysfunction and certainly can help achieve a second erection after climax. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, commonly used for depression, anxiety, etc., have a side effect of substantially delaying ejaculation and are often used effectively for PE.

“It takes too long”

Delayed ejaculation (DE) is a condition in which ejaculation occurs only after a prolonged time following penetration. Some men are unable to ejaculate at all, despite having a rigid and durable erection.

DE can be problematic for both the delayed ejaculator and his partner, resulting in frustration, exhaustion, and soreness and pain for both partners. The sexual partner often feels distress and responsibility because of the implication that the problem may be their fault and that they are inadequate in terms of attractiveness or enabling a climax. The combination of not being able to achieve sexual “closure,” the inability to enjoy the mutual intimacy of ejaculation, and denying the partner the gratification of knowing that they can bring their man to climax is a perfect storm for a stressful relationship. As tempting as it is to think that DE is an asset in terms of pleasing your partner, a “marathon” performance has major shortcomings.

Interestingly, some men with this condition can ejaculate in an appropriate amount of time with masturbation. As well, some men can ejaculate in a normal time frame with manual or oral stimulation from their partner although they cannot do so with vaginal sexual intercourse.

Underlying medical conditions can factor in: hypothyroidism is strongly associated with delayed ejaculation, whereas hyperthyroidism is associated with premature ejaculation. Since serotonin and dopamine as well as other hormones and chemicals are involved with ejaculatory control, any drug that modifies their levels may affect ejaculation timing. As stated previously, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors delay can substantially delay or prevent ejaculation in a man without pre-existing ejaculation issues. Various neurological conditions that disrupt the communication between the spinal ejaculatory center and the brain/penis can also cause this type of ejaculatory dysfunction.

Fact: As with so many sexual dysfunctions, excessive focus on the problem instead of allowing oneself to be “in the moment” can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.  In other words, if one goes into a sexual situation mentally dwelling and consumed with the problem, it is likely that this may spur on the problem. This goes for both premature and delayed ejaculation.

One solution is to avoid ejaculation for several days prior to intercourse, the same line of reasoning used for managing premature ejaculation by masturbating immediately before intercourse. Sexual counseling using sensate focus therapy has proven to be of benefit to some patients with DE.

“Ejaculation doesn’t happen”

Absent ejaculation happens with surgical removal of the male reproductive organs, as occurs with radical prostatectomy and radical cystectomy for prostate and bladder cancer, respectively. It can also occur in the presence of neurological disorders. In these circumstances, orgasm can still be experienced, although the ejaculation is “dry.”

 “Not much fluid comes out”

Skimpy ejaculatory volume is common with aging, as the reproductive organs “dry out” to some extent. It also occurs with commonly used prostate medications that either reduce reproductive gland secretions or cause the semen to be ejaculated backwards into the urinary bladder, a.k.a.,retrograde ejaculation. Even though ejaculation is backwards, the sensation tends to be unchanged.

“It dribbles out without force or much of a pleasant sensation”

What was once the ability to forcefully ejaculate a substantial volume of semen in an arc several feet in length associated with an intense orgasm gives way to a lackluster experience with a small volume of semen weakly dribbled out of the penis. These issues clearly correlate with aging, weakened pelvic floor muscles and erectile dysfunction.

Ways to Optimize Ejaculation

  • Healthy lifestyleWholesome and nutritious eating habits and maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, adequate sleep, alcohol in moderation, avoidance of tobacco, and stress management will help keep all organs and tissues functioning well, including the ejaculatory “apparatus.”
  • Pelvic floor muscle training: Strong pelvic floor muscles under good voluntary control can help control the timing of ejaculation as well as enable powerful contractions to forcibly ejaculate semen. Readers are directed to the Male Pelvic Fitness book that I wrote and the PelvicRx DVD (interactive DVD and digital access) that I co-created as excellent resources for learning how to properly pursue pelvic floor muscle training.  For more detailed and scientific information on the topic of pelvic floor training, please see a review article I wrote for the Gold Journal of Urology: Pelvic floor training in males: Practical applications.

Fact: The “ejaculator” muscle is the bulbocavernosus muscle,  also responsible for expelling the last few drops of urine after emptying your bladder.  Many men have both erection/ejaculation issues as well as an after-dribble of urination, called post-void dribbling.  Whip the bulbocavernosus into shape and you can improve all functions of the muscle. Note in image below (from 1909 Gray’s Anatomy, public domain) how this muscle surrounds the deep, inner part of the channel that conducts urine and semen.  When strengthened, this muscle will be you BFF in the bedroom!

Bulbospongiosus-Male

Ejaculator muscle (in red)

  • Breathe deeply and slowly: During sexual activity there is a tendency for shallow and rapid breathing or breath holding because of excitement and increasing sexual tension. Depth and rhythm of breathing can affect ejaculation with deep, full breaths optimal.
  • Stay sexually active: All body parts need to be used on a regular basis, including our reproductive organs. Keep the erectile and ejaculatory muscles fit by using them as nature intended.

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

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor

 

 

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Female Pelvic Floor Muscle Resistance Training

July 21, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   7/21/2018

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            Kim Anami started the trend of vaginal weightlifting; visit her website at http://www.kimanami.com

 

 “In the preservation or restoration of muscular function, nothing is more fundamental than the frequent repetition of correctly guided exercises instituted by the patient’s own efforts.  Exercise must be carried out against progressively increasing resistance, since muscles increase in strength in direct proportion to the demands placed upon them.”

–JV Luck, Air Surgeon’s Bulletin, 1945

“Resistance exercise is one of the most efficient ways to stimulate muscular and metabolic adaptation.”

–Mark Peterson, PhD

Resistance

Resistance training is a means of strength conditioning in which work is performed against an opposing force. The premise of resistance training is that by gradually and progressively overloading the muscles working against the resistance, they will adapt by becoming bigger and stronger. Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) using resistance optimizes pelvic floor muscle (PFM) conditioning, resulting in more power, stability and endurance and the functional benefits to pelvic health that accrue. It also helps to rebuild as well as maintain PFM mass that tends to decrease with aging.

Applying resistance training to the pelvic floor muscles

Resistance is easy to understand with respect to external muscles, e.g., it is applied to the biceps muscles when you do arm curls with dumbbells. Resistance training can be applied to the PFM by contracting your PFM against a compressible device placed in your vagina.  Its presence gives you a physical and tangible object to squeeze against, as opposed to basic training, which exercises the PFM without resistance. Resistance PFMT is similar to weight training—in both instances, the adaptive process gradually but progressively increases the capacity to do more reps with greater PFM contractility and less difficulty completing the regimen. In time, the resistance can be dialed up, accelerating the adaptive process.

In the late 1940s, Dr. Arnold Kegel devised the perineometer that enabled resistance PFM exercises. It consisted of a pneumatic vaginal chamber connected by tubing to a pressure manometer.  This device provided both a means of resistance and visual biofeedback. The chamber was inserted into the vagina and the PFM were contracted while observing the pressure gauge (calibrated from 0-100 mm mercury). With training, the PFM strength increased in proportion to the measured PFM contractions.

PFMT resistance tools

There are many PFM resistance devices on the market and my intention is to provide information about what is available, but NOT to endorse any product in particular. What follows is by no means a comprehensive review of all products. Some are basic and simple, but many of the newer ones are “high tech” and sophisticated means of providing resistance, biofeedback and tracking, often via Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone. I classify the devices into vaginal weights, electro-stimulation devices, simple resistance devices and sophisticated resistance devices.  Within each category, the devices are listed in order of increasing cost.

Vaginal Weights

These weighted objects are placed in the vagina and require PFM engagement in order that they stay in position. They are not intended to be used with any formal training program but do provide resistance to contract down upon.

Vaginal Cones: These are a set of cones of identical shape but variable weights.  Initially, you place a light cone in your vagina and stand and walk about, allowing gravity to come into play. PFM contractions are required to prevent the cone from falling out. The intent is to retain the weighted cone for fifteen minutes twice daily to improve the strength of the PFM.  Gradual progression to heavier cones challenges the PFM.  (Search “vaginal cones” as there are several products on the market.)

Word of advice: Be careful not to wear open-toed shoes when walking around with the weighted cones…a broken toe is a possible complication!

Ben Wa Balls:  These are similar to vaginal cones but appear more like erotic toys than medical devices. There are numerous variations on the theme of weighted balls that can be inserted in your vagina, available in a variety of different sizes and weights.  Some are attached to a string, allowing you to tug on the balls to add more resistance. Another type has a compressible elastic covering that can be squeezed down upon with PFM contractions. Still others vibrate. There are some upscale varieties that are carved into egg shapes from minerals such as jade and obsidian. (Search “Ben Wa Balls.”)

Kim Anami is the queen of vaginal kung fu, a life and sex coach who advocates vaginal “weightlifting” to help women physically and emotionally “reconnect” to their vaginas and become more in tune with their sexual energy. Her weightlifting has included coconuts, statues, conch shells, etc.  According to her, vaginal weightlifting increases libido, lubrication, orgasm potential and sexual pleasure for both partners.                                                                                                                       

Electro-Stimulation Devices

These devices work by passive electrical stimulation of the PFM.  Electrical impulses trigger PFM contractions without the necessity for active engagement.  Many clinical studies have shown that electro-stimulation in conjunction with PFMT offers no real advantages over PFMT alone. Like the electrical abdominal belts that claim to tone and shape your abdominal muscles with no actual work on your part, these devices seem much better in theory than in actual performance.

Intensity: This is a battery-powered erotic device that looks like the popular “rabbit” vibrator sex toy.  It consists of an inflatable vaginal probe that has an external handle. It has contact points on the probe that electro-stimulate the PFM and vibrators for both clitoral and “G-spot” stimulation. It has 5 speeds and 10 levels of stimulation. Cost is $199 (Pourmoi.com).

ApexM:  This device is intended for use by patients with stress urinary incontinence.  It consists of an inflatable vaginal probe and control handle. It is inserted inside the vagina, inflated it for a snug fit and powered on.  Electric current is used to induce PFM contractions. The intensity is increased until a PFM contraction occurs, after which the device is used 5-10 minutes daily. Cost is $299 (Incontrolmedical.com).

Simple PFMT Resistance Devices

These are basic model, inexpensive resistance devices. They consist of varying physical elements that you place in your vagina to give you a tangible object to contract your PFM upon. They provide biofeedback to ensure that you are contracting the proper muscles. Some offer progressive resistance while others only a single resistance level.

These devices can be used in conjunction with the specific programs that were specified in a previous blog entry.  To do so, repeat the 4-week program for your specific pelvic floor dysfunction while incorporating these devices into the regimen. You may discover that the 4-week programs using the devices that offer progressive resistance become too challenging as you dial up the resistance level. If this is the case, you can continue with the first week’s program while increasing the resistance over time. Customize and modify the programs to make them work for you, as was recommended for the tailored programs without using resistance.

Educator Pelvic Floor Exercise Indicator:  This is a tampon-shaped device that you insert into your vagina. It is attached to an external arm that moves when you are contracting the PFM properly, giving you positive feedback. Cost is $32.99 on Amazon (Neenpelvichealth.com).

Gyneflex: This is a flexible V-shaped plastic device that is available in different resistances. You insert it in your vagina (apex of the V first) and when you squeeze your PFM properly, the external handles on each limb of the V close down, the goal being to get them to touch. Cost is $39.95 (Gyneflex.com). The Gyneflex is similar in form and function to hand grippers that increase grip strength. 

Pelvic Toner:  Manufactured in the UK, this is a spring-based resistance device that you insert into your vagina.  It has an external handle and two internal arms that remain separated, so the device must be held closed and inserted. When your hold is released the device springs open and, by contracting your PFM, you can close the device. It offers five different levels of resistance. Cost is 29.99 British pounds (Pelvictoner.co.uk).

Magic Banana: This is a PFM exerciser that consists of a loop of plastic and silicone tubing joined on a handle end. The loop is inserted in the vagina and squeezed against.  When the PFM are contracted properly, the two arms of the loop squeeze together. Cost is $49.99 (Magicbanana.com).

KegelMaster: This is a spring-loaded device that you insert in your vagina and is squeezed upon. It has an external handle with a knob that can be tightened or loosened to provide resistance by clamping down or separating the two arms of the internal component. Four springs offer different levels of resistance. Cost is $98.95 (Kegelmaster.com).

Kegel Pelvic Muscle Thigh ExerciserThis is a Y-shaped plastic device that fits between your inner thighs.  When you squeeze your thighs together, the gadget squeezes closed. This exerciser has NOTHING to do with the PFM as it strengthens the adductor muscles of the thigh, serving only to reinforce doing the wrong exercise and it is shameful that the manufacturer mentions the terms “Kegel” and “pelvic muscle” in the description of this product.

To be continued next week, with a review of sophisticated PFMT resistance devices.

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

Cover

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

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

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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.

3 screw icon square

 

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

 

Preparing For Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT): What You Need To Know (Part 3)

January 20, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD  1/20/18

This entry, written for both women as well as men, is intended to enable one to do a proper contraction of  the pelvic floor muscles (PFM), a task easier said than done.  A means of self-assessment of PFM strength and stamina is offered. 

Image Below: The Pelvic Floor Muscles (Male left; Female right)

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum

Attribution: URL: https://cnx.org/contents/FPtK1zmh@8.108:b3YG6PIp@6/Axial-Muscles-of-the-Abdominal
Version 8.25 from the Textbook
OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology
Published May 18, 2016 

Do It Right

PFM exercises (Kegel exercises) must be done properly to reap benefits. Many think they are doing these pelvic contractions correctly, but actually are contracting the wrong muscles, an explanation of why their efforts may have failed to improve their clinical situation. In both women and men, PFM exercises involve pulling inwards and upwards, lifting and elevating.  In females, this will result in tightening the urethral, vaginal and anal openings and in males tightening the anus and if done at the time of an erection, elevating the erect penis.  Proper pelvic contractions are the very opposite of straining. One strains to move their bowels, whereas one “Kegels” to accomplish the opposite—to tighten up the sphincters to NOT move their bowels; in fact, PFM contractions are a means of suppressing bowel urgency (as well as urinary urgency).

How do you know if you are contracting your PFM properly?

For the Ladies: 6 Ways to Know That You Are Properly Contracting Your PFM

  1. When you see the base of your clitoris retract and move inwards towards your pubic bone.
  2. When you see your perineum (area between vagina and anus) move up and in.
  3. When you see the anus contract (“anal wink”) and feel it tighten and pull up and in.
  4. When you can stop your urinary stream completely.
  5. When you place your index and middle fingers on your perineum and you feel the contraction.
  6. When you place a finger in your vagina, you feel the vaginal “grip” tighten.

 

 

For the Gentlemen: 6 Ways to Know That You Are Properly Contracting Your PFM

  1. When you see the base of your penis retract inwards towards the pubic bone and the testes rise up towards the groin.
  2. When you place your index and middle fingers in the midline between the scrotum and anus and you feel the PFM contractions.
  3. When you see the anus contract (“anal wink”) and feel it tighten and pull up and in.
  4. When you get the same feeling as you do when you are ejaculating.
  5. When you touch your erect penis and feel the penile erectile chambers surge with blood and you can make the penis lift upwards when you are in the standing position.
  6. When you can stop your urinary stream completely.

Fact:  Vince Lombardi stated: “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”  This is wholly applicable to PFM training. Do it right or don’t do it!

Assessing Your PFM: Note that this is used primarily for women

There are many fancy ways of testing your PFM, but the simplest is by using tools that everyone owns—their fingers.  Digital palpation (a finger in the vagina, or alternatively the anal canal) is the standard means of testing the contraction strength of the PFM. The other methods are visual inspection, electromyography (measuring electrical activity of the PFM), perineometry (measuring PFM contractile strength via a device that is inserted into the vagina or anus) and imaging tests that assess the lifting aspects of the PFM, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging.

Assessment of your PFM evaluates PFM strength and endurance.  PFM strength can be self-assessed in the supine position (lying down, face up) with your knees bent and parted. Gently place a lubricated finger of one hand in the vagina (or alternatively the anal canal) and contract your PFM, lifting upwards and inwards and squeezing around the finger. Keep your buttocks down in contact with the surface you are lying on. Ensure that you are not contracting your gluteal (butt), rectus (abdomen) or adductor (inner thigh) muscles. Do this by placing your other hand on each of these other muscle groups, in turn, to prove to yourself that these muscles remain relaxed during the PFM contraction.

Rate your PFM strength using the modified Oxford grading scale, giving yourself a grade ranging from 0-5.  Note that the Oxford system is what many physicians use and it is relatively simple when done regularly by those who are experienced performing pelvic exams. Granted that this is not your area of expertise, so you may find this challenging. However, do your best to get a general sense of your baseline PFM strength.

Oxford Grading of PFM Strength

0—complete lack of contraction

1—minor flicker

2—weak squeeze

3—moderate squeeze

4—good squeeze

5—strong squeeze

Next test your PFM endurance. Do as many PFM contractions as possible, pulsing the PFM rapidly until fatigue sets in (the failure point where you cannot do any more contractions).  After you have recovered, contract the PFM for several seconds followed by relaxing them for several seconds, doing as many repetitions until fatigue occurs. Finally, do a single PFM contraction and hold it for as long as you can.

Record your Oxford grade and the maximum number of pulses, maximum number of several second contractions and the duration of the sustained hold as baseline measurements. These will be useful to help assess your progress. Initially, it is likely that your PFM will be weak and lack endurance capacity.

Coming soon…The Nuts and Bolts of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training.

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 pelvic floor health 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 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing For Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT): What You Need To Know

January 6, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD  1/6/2017

Happy New Year!  At this time, many of us are trying to execute New Year’s resolutions.  Topping the list of most resolutions is getting into good physical shape.  A vital piece of this is pelvic floor fitness; in fact, pelvic floor muscle training was among the top five exercises recommended for general health and fitness in a recent Harvard Medical School report.

The next series of blog entries, written for both men and women, will enable you to achieve pelvic floor fitness.  Remember, Kegels are not just for the ladies!  This first entry discusses the fast and slow twitch muscle fibers that determine pelvic floor muscle (PFM) function, the adaptation principle and the distinction between strength, power and stability.  

Image below: Male PFM (left) and female PFM (right); notice their similarity.

1116_Muscle_of_the_PerineumAttribution: URL: https://cnx.org/contents/FPtK1zmh@8.108:b3YG6PIp@6/Axial-Muscles-of-the-Abdominal  Version 8.25 from the Textbook, OpenStax Anatomy and Physiology, 
Published May 18, 2016

Muscles 101

Muscles provide shape to our bodies and allow for movement, stability and maintenance of posture.  Most skeletal muscles come in pairs and cross bony joints—when one group contracts, it causes bending of that joint and when the opposing group contracts, it causes straightening of that joint (e.g., biceps/triceps).  When each contract equally, the joint is in a neutral position. The human body has three types of muscles—skeletal muscles that provide mobility and stability, smooth muscles that line the arteries, bladder, intestine, etc., and the unique cardiac muscle of the heart.  Muscles are composed of fibers that contract (shorten and tighten) and relax (lengthen and loosen).

The PFM are skeletal muscles that are comprised of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers predominate in high contractile muscles that fatigue rapidly and are used for fast-paced muscle action, e.g., sprinting.  Slow twitch fibers predominate in endurance muscles, e.g., marathon running. The PFM have a constant tone (low level of involuntary contraction) because of the presence of slow twitch fibers. The fast twitch fibers allow for voluntary contraction. The PFM fibers are 70% slow twitch, fatigue-resistant, endurance muscles to maintain constant muscle tone (e.g., sphincter function and pelvic support) and 30% fast twitch, capable of rapid and powerful contractions (e.g., sexual climax, interrupting the urinary stream and tightening the anus).

Fact:  Aging causes a decline in the function of the fast twitch fibers, but tends to spare the slow twitch fibers.   

Muscle mass is in a dynamic state, a constant balance between growth and breakdown. With aging, muscle fiber wasting occurs as muscle breakdown exceeds muscle growth, adversely affecting function. Strength training reduces muscle wasting by increasing muscle bulk through enlargement of muscle fibers. This is true of all skeletal muscles, the PFM being no exception.

Adaptation Principle

Muscles are remarkably responsive to the stresses placed upon them.  Muscle growth only occurs in the presence of progressive overload, which causes compensatory structural and functional changes, a.k.a. adaptation. This explains 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. Skeletal muscles are “plastic,” capable of growth or shrinkage depending on the environment to which they are exposed.

The PFM behave similarly to other skeletal muscles in terms of their response to exercise or lack thereof.  In accordance with the adaptation principle, it is advisable to increase number of repetitions and contraction intensity to build muscle PFM strength, power and endurance.  As much as our muscles adapt positively to resistance, so they will adapt to the absence of stress and resistance, resulting in smaller, weaker and less durable muscles.

Fact: Use It or Lose It. With a conditioning regimen, the PFM will thrive, optimizing their function.  When the PFM are neglected, they will weaken, impairing their function.   

Strength, Power and Stability

The goal of PFM training is to maximize the trio of PFM strength, power and stability. Strength is the maximum amount of force that a muscle can exert. With time and effort, PFM contractions become more robust, helping sexual function and improving one’s ability to neutralize stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder and pelvic organ prolapse in females.  In males, command of one’s pelvic floor muscles can improve sexual, urinary and prostate health.  Power is a gauge of strength and speed (muscle force multiplied by the contraction speed), a measure of how rapidly strength can be expressed, of great benefit to sexual health and the ability to react rapidly to urinary/bowel urgency and stress urinary incontinence. Stability helps maintain vaginal tone, urinary and bowel sphincter function and pelvic organ support as well as contributing to the “backboard” that helps prevent stress urinary incontinence.

To be continued… Next week’s entry provides information on the process of building muscle PFM memory and how to develop PFM awareness.

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

 

 

 

Love Muscles Illustrated

December 23, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  12/23/17

Hermes Butchart Gardens, Victoria

Above photo of Hermes I took this past summer at Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada 

In this entry, words will be kept to a minimum because the illustrations tell most of the story.  The images of the superficial pelvic floor muscles (muscles of love) that follow derive from the 1918 edition of Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body (public domain), modified by Uwe Gille.

Whether you are male or female, two vital muscles — bulbocavernosus (BC) and ischiocavernosus (IC— have an intimate relationship with your genitals and are the “motor” that drives their function.  Without them, your penis or vagina would be non-functional putty!  Notice how remarkably similar the muscles are in both genders, the only difference being that the BC muscle is split in women, divided by the vagina.

Factoid: The relationship of the BC and IC muscles to the vagina and penis parallels the relationship between the diaphragm and the lungs. Without a functioning diaphragm to move the lungs, your lungs would be non-functional bags of air. 

Male BC (top) and IC muscles (bottom)

Bulbospongiosus-Male

Ischiocavernosus-male

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Transform “plump” penis to “rigid” penis by compressing erectile chambers (responsible for penile high blood pressure)
  • Enables you to move your erect penis up and down at will
  • Stabilizes erect penis so it stays rigid and skyward-angled
  • Contract at climax and responsible for forcible expulsion of semen

Factoid: The only place in the body it is desirable to have high blood pressure is the penis. The BP at the time of full rigidity is > 200 mm, the 80-100 mm increase over systolic BP achieved by virtue of contraction of these muscles.

 

 

 

 

Female BC (top) and IC muscles (bottom)

Bulbospongiosus-Female

Ischiocavernosus-female

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Increase pelvic blood flow during arousal, contributing to lubrication and plumping of vulva
  • Transform clitoris from flaccid to erect
  • Enables tightening vagina at will
  • Contract at the time of climax contributing to physical sensation of orgasm

Factoid: Women capable of achieving “seismic” orgasms most often have very strong, toned, supple and flexible BC and IC muscles.

 

 

 

Bottom Line: In men, these muscles function as the “erector penis” and “ejaculator penis.”  In women, these muscles function as the “erector clitoris,” “constrictor vagina,” and “climaxer maximus.”  Whether you are female or male, optimize the function of these muscles by doing Kegel exercises and make sure you do them properly: Male Kegel Book; Female Kegel Book.  To quote Sam Sneed, “Exercise puts brains in your muscles,” totally appropriate to these vital muscles that govern sexual function. 

Wishing you the best of health, a merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018!

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 Female O: What You Need To Know

November 25, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   11/25/2017

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all!  Among the items to be grateful for are food, shelter, family, friends and of course, love–in all its aspects.  What follows are some (hopefully illuminating) words on the female sexual climax.

alphabet-150778_1280.png

Thank you, Pixabay, for image above

The word “orgasm” is derived from New Latin orgasmus and Greek orgasmós, meaning “to swell; to be excited.”  Defining orgasm is hardly necessary for anyone who has ever experienced one (and if you haven’t, Meg Ryan did a fine rendition in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”!), but it is worth reviewing some of the different medically-oriented definitions:

Kinsey: The expulsive discharge of neuromuscular tension at the peak of sexual response.

Masters and Johnson: A brief episode of physical release from the vaso-congestion and myotonic increment developed in response to sexual stimuli.

John Money: The zenith of sexual-erotic experience characterized as voluptuous rapture or ecstasy occurring simultaneously in the brain/mind and the genitalia. Irrespective of its locus of onset, the occurrence is contingent upon reciprocal intercommunication between neural networks in the brain, above, and the genitalia below, and it does not survive their disconnection by the severance of the spinal cord, but is able to survive even extensive trauma at either end.

Definition quoted at a sexual urology meeting I attended: A variable transient peak sensation of intense pleasure creating an altered state of consciousness, usually with an initiation accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature, often with concomitant uterine and anal contractions and myotonia that resolves the sexually induced vaso-congestion and myotonia, generally with an induction of well-being and contentment. 

Whoa…That last one is ridiculously technical and complex!

A simple definition is the following: A release of muscle tension accompanied by pelvic pulsations at the peak of sexual excitement that follows sexual arousal, which is marked by genital swelling, muscle tension, erect nipples, increased heart rate, heart contractility, blood pressure and breathing rate and skin flushing.

The are many descriptor terms used to describe what may happen during an orgasm: pulsations, contractions, spasms, goosebumps, shivers, hot flashes, flushing, tingling, perspiration, moaning, building, swelling, flowing, flooding, spreading, spurting, shooting, throbbing, pulsating, shuddering, trembling, quivering.

In terms of achieving orgasm, the most important organ is not a throbbing, erect penis or a pulsating, lubricated vagina, but the brain—the master organ and “governor” of sexuality.  It is capable of fostering an earth-shattering, consciousness-altering, explosive mind-body experience, but is equally capable of dooming a sexual experience to failure. It is a given that in order to have a positive sexual experience, the brain and mind must cooperate with the body.  Emotions, memories, thoughts, perceptions and sensations contribute vitally to the sexual experience.

Pathway to Sexual Climax

Accompanying arousal and sexual stimulation is increased pelvic blood flow that induces vaginal lubrication and congestion and engorgement of the vulva, vagina and clitoris.  The “orgasmic platform” is the Masters and Johnson’s term for the outer third of the vagina with engorged inner lips, which they considered to be the “base” of pelvic blood congestion. With increasing stimulation and arousal, physical tension within the genitals gradually builds and once sufficient intensity and duration of sexual stimulation surpass a threshold, involuntary rhythmic muscular contractions occur of the pelvic floor muscles, the vagina, uterus and anus, followed by the release of accumulated erotic tension and a euphoric state. Thereafter, the genital engorgement and congestion subside, muscle relaxation occurs and a peaceful state of physical and emotional bliss and afterglow become apparent.

The pelvic floor muscles contract rhythmically during climax: a total of 10-15 contractions typically occur, with the first 3-5 contractions occurring at 0.8-second intervals after which the interval between contractions lengthens and the intensity of the contractions decreases. However, orgasm is not only a genital response, but also a total body reaction causing numerous muscles to go into involuntary spasm, including the facial muscles resulting in grimacing, hand and foot muscles resulting in finger and toe curling, and numerous skeletal muscles that tense prior to release. Additionally, pupils dilate, skin flushes and the clitoral head retracts.

Clitoral vs. Vaginal Orgasm

Most women report that both clitoral and vaginal stimulation play important roles in achieving sexual climax. However, the clitoris has the greatest density of nerves, is easily accessible and typically responds readily to stimulation, so for most women is the fastest track to sexual climax. It is estimated that 70% of women require clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm.  Clitoral orgasms are often described as a buildup of sensation in the clitoral region with intense waves of external muscle spasm and release. In contrast, vaginal orgasms are described as slower, fuller, wider, deeper, more expansive, complex, pervasive whole-body sensation.

Orgasms can be triggered via different neural pathways–clitoral orgasms via the pudendal nerves and vaginal orgasms via both the pudendal nerves that provide the nerve supply to the more superficial aspect of the vagina and the hypogastric and pelvic splanchnic nerves that provide the supply to the deeper aspect of the vagina.

The truth of the matter is that lady parts are all inter-connected and work together, so grouping orgasm into clitoral versus vaginal is arbitrary and artificial.  Penetrative sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation as the clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner lips, the lips of which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. Furthermore, the “legs” and “bulbs” of the clitoris—the deep anatomy that extends below the surface—are stimulated by vaginal penetration. Upward movement in the missionary position in which there is pubic bone to pubic bone contact provides direct clitoral stimulation as well.

Anatomical variations can affect ability to achieve sexual climax. Clitoral size and the distance of the clitoris to the vaginal opening differ among women. Women whose clitoris is closer to the vaginal opening are more likely to report orgasms from sexual intercourse. Women who have difficulty or cannot achieve orgasm often have a smaller clitoral head.

Orgasms can at times be achieved by non-genital stimulation. Some women can climax simply by erotic thoughts, others by breast stimulation or foot massage.  At the time of climax, some women are capable of “ejaculating” fluid. The nature of this fluid has been controversial, thought by some to be hyper-lubrication and others to be glandular secretions (Bartholin’s and/or Skene’s glands). There are certain women who “ejaculate” very large volumes of fluid at climax and studies have shown this to be urine released due to involuntary bladder contractions that can accompany sexual climax.

Wishing you the best of health and a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend,

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

 

 

“Size” Should Never Outrank “Service”

November 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  11/11/2017

As I stood in the gateway line during the painful process of boarding an airplane, I caught sight of a poster ad stating the following: “Size should never outrank service.” This referred to the smaller size regional jets that offer amenities including first-class, Wi-Fi, etc. Later, I saw another poster ad for the same airline stating: “How fast the flight goes isn’t always up to pilot.” As a physician interested in sexual/pelvic health and language, I found these sentences with double meanings amusing and entertaining.  The ultimate phallic structure is an aircraft and aeronautics provides a rich metaphor for male sexual function, the topic of today’s entry.  

Large and clunky

Airbus_A380-861,_Airbus_Industrie_AN2032144

By Oleg V. Belyakov – AirTeamImages [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Small and nimble

800px-F-15_vertical_deploy

Above image, public domain

 

Terms that apply to aeronautics and sexual function

Aircraft: a machine capable of flight—the penis

Pilot: the person who occupies the cockpit and controls the aircraft—the possessor of the penis

Cockpit (I really like this word!): the front of the fuselage where the pilots sit—the head of the penis

Fuselage: the body of the aircraft—the shaft of the penis

Horizontal and vertical stabilizers of the tail:  aircraft parts that provide stability to keep it flying straight—the pelvic floor muscles that stabilize and support the penis

Flight: the process of flying that includes a launch, a flight pattern and a landing—a sexual encounter

Launch: the takeoff—obtaining an erection

Flight pattern: the aircraft’s movement after takeoff—the sexual act

Landing: the conclusion and most difficult part of the flight, which requires skill, precision and timing to perform competently — ejaculation/orgasm

 Cruising Altitude: the altitude at which most of a flight is flown in route to a destination—a fully rigid erection

Jet fuel: fuel designed for use in an aircraft—in erectile terms, penile blood flow

Fuel line: the means by which fuel is pumped from the storage tanks to the engine—the penile arteries

Thrust: the propulsive force of an aircraft—the surging power of the erect penis

Throttle: a device for controlling the flow of fuel to an aircraft’s engine—the nerves that control the smooth muscle within the penile arteries and within the erectile tissue

Failure to Launch: a condition in which the aircraft is unable to get airborne—erectile dysfunction

Emergency landing: unanticipated landing before the scheduled arrival time—premature ejaculation

Aborted Landing: when an aircraft is about to land, but the pilot halts the landing and regains altitude deferring the landing—delayed ejaculation

Ground Time: the amount of down time between landing and the next flight—refractory period

Mayday: distress signal indicative of a significant problem with the aircraft or flight—a major sexual failure

Bottom Line:  Aeronautics provides an excellent metaphor for male sexual function.  The pilot can be accorded better control, longer flight times, higher altitudes, as well as launching a second flight with less ground time by attending to a few key measures. Although it is impossible to convert a F-15 Eagle (pictured above) into an Airbus A380 (pictured above), it is a fact that size should never outrank service!  Bigger is not always better as function often trumps form. 

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.