Posts Tagged ‘pelvic pain’

When Stress Causes A “Headache” In The Pelvis

November 26, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 11/26/2016

stress

Image above attributed to Dr. David Potter, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

It is virtually impossible to avoid stress in our lives. A small and manageable amount of stress—“eustress”—triggers adrenaline release, which increases pulse, respiratory rate and blood pressure, dilates the pupils and makes one hyper-alert, focused and motivated. All things considered, this can improve performance—think “caffeine on steroids.” However, excessive stress—”distress”—is clearly a bad situation, causing anxiety that can decrease performance, un-motivate and make life rather unpleasant.

The immediate manifestations of stress-mediated adrenaline release are due to the primitive “flight-or-fight” response that causes us to brace, tighten, clench and compress our bodies. Stress triggers rapid, shallow and less efficient chest breathing as opposed to proper breathing from the diaphragm, which is slow, steady deep and efficient. Slouching and poor posture from clenching and muscle tensioning further exacerbates the breathing issues.

Chronic stress—internalized—can have many physical manifestations, often tension headaches involving taut muscles in the head, neck and back. Other signs of stress-turned inwards are insomnia, fatigue, altered immune system function, depression and loss of sex drive. It can also be responsible for high blood pressure, angina, heart attacks and strokes as well as give rise to gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Urinary frequency is a not uncommon urological manifestation of chronic stress.

When stress is internalized within the pelvic floor muscles it can cause pelvic floor tension myalgia, which causes pelvic pain often accompanied by sexual, urinary and bowel symptoms. It can cause knots within the pelvic muscles—discrete sights of hyper-tensioned muscle. This tension myalgia is a very difficult and frustrating situation that often requires a number of different treatment approaches.

Because the pelvis is the site of important functions– urinary, sexual and bowel–it is a particularly bad location for holding tension. Pelvic “hypertension” can cause urinary, genital and rectal pain as well as adversely affect the proper performance of these systems. It can cause difficulty starting one’s urinary stream, a weak stream, incomplete emptying of the bladder and symptoms of overactive bladder (urgency, frequency, etc.). It can be responsible for pain with sexual stimulation and intercourse, sometimes to the extent that sexual intercourse is not possible. It can also cause constipation, hemorrhoids, fissures and other bowel symptoms.

When anxiety expresses itself through tension in the pelvic floor muscles, the physical tension and pain further contribute to emotional anxiety and stress reaction, which creates a vicious cycle. Poor posture, muscle overuse and abnormalities with the nerve pathway that regulates muscle tone are other factors that contribute to the pelvic tension.

Characteristically, the pain waxes and wanes in intensity, may “wander” to different locations and can be perceived to be superficial, intermediate or deep in the pelvic tissues. It can involve the lower abdomen, groin, pubic area, genitals, perineum, anus, rectum, hips and lower back. The pain is often described as “stabbing,” although it can be cramping, burning or itching in quality. Urination, bowel movements and sexual activity can aggravate the pain.

Because the symptoms of pelvic floor tension myalgia can be vague and variable, those afflicted often have difficulty precisely expressing their symptoms, although they usually have many complaints and have typically seen numerous physicians and have had multiple prior interventions. Many patients thought to have interstitial cystitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic prostatitis, vulvodynia and fibromyalgia in actuality have pelvic tension myalgia. In fact, this pelvic floor issue is probably one of the most common problems that urologists and gynecologists see and is likely one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions. Many suffering with it are miserable and deeply frustrated after having endured years of episodic agony without relief.

How Is Pelvic Floor Tension Myalgia Diagnosed?

Most important are a rectal exam in men and a pelvic exam in women to evaluate the pelvic floor muscles. Typical findings are tight, tender and weak pelvic muscles, spasticity, and difficulty in relaxing the muscles following contraction. Localized, knot-like bands can often be felt, similar to tension knots that can develop in back muscles. The pain can often be localized by a vaginal or rectal exam that identifies these trigger points, the sites of origin of the myalgia that when manipulated cause tremendous pain, often replicating the symptoms.

How Is Pelvic Floor Tension Myalgia Managed?

The key to treatment is to foster relaxation and “down-training” of the spastic pelvic muscles in order to untie the “knot(s).” By making the proper diagnosis and providing pain relief, the vicious cycle of anxiety/pain can be broken. Managing it often requires multiple approaches including stress management, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic medications, and physical interventions.

Pelvic muscle training can be a useful piece of this multimodal management approach by its focus on developing proficiency in relaxing the pelvic muscles. The emphasis here is not on contracting these already over-contracted and over-tensioned muscles, which could aggravate the problem. This demands a different spin on the usual concept of pelvic training, which in this instance is not to increase tone and strength—rather it is to instill pelvic muscle awareness and enable the capacity for maximal pelvic relaxation, which is considered to be a “meditative” state between pelvic muscle contractions. Those suffering with this problem need to learn to unclench and release the pelvic floor muscles.

Focused therapies include the application of heat and pelvic massage. Pelvic floor physical therapists can be of great benefit to those suffering with pelvic tension myalgia. They use a number of physical interventions that provide pelvic muscle stretching and lengthening to increase muscle flexibility including trigger point therapy, which compresses and massages the knotted and spastic muscles. Those afflicted that are so motivated can pursue self-treatment regimens using internal, manually guided trigger point release wands that aim to relieve or eliminate the knots by self-directed manipulation and massage. These devices may be obtained without a prescription and are available online. Pelvic muscle tension myalgia sometimes requires injections of medication—including anesthetics, steroids or Botox—into the offending trigger points.

Bottom Line: In people afflicted with pelvic pain, the diagnosis of pelvic floor muscle tension myalgia should be a primary consideration. Physical interventions can be extremely helpful in alleviating the pain and untying the “knots” within the over-tensioned pelvic muscles. By making the proper diagnosis and providing pain relief and fostering muscle relaxation, the vicious cycle of anxiety/pain can be broken.

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. 

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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. 

10 Reasons For Men To Kegel

June 4, 2016

Andrew Siegel, M.D. 6/4/16

The pelvic floor muscles—a.k.a. the Kegel muscles—are internal, hidden and behind-the-scenes muscles, yet they are vital to a healthy life. There are numerous advantages to keeping them fit and robust with pelvic floor exercises.  Last week’s entry detailed why this is the case for females and today’s will explain how and why are equally beneficial for males.  As the saying goes: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” and when it comes to the pelvic floor, this is an absolute truth.  Kegel popularized these exercises for females and it is my intent to do the same for men!   If you would like more information on pelvic floor muscle training in men, visit AndrewSiegelMD.com, the opening page of which has the link to a review article I wrote for the Gold Journal of Urology on the topic. 

 

pixabay image

  10 REASONS FOR MEN TO DO KEGEL EXERCISES 

  1. To improve/prevent erectile dysfunction.
  1. To improve/prevent premature ejaculation.
  1. To improve/prevent ejaculatory dysfunction (skimpy ejaculation volumes, weak ejaculation force and arc, diminished ejaculatory sensation).
  1. To improve/prevent post-void dribbling (that annoying after-dribble of urine that occurs after finishing urinating).
  1. To improve/prevent stress urinary incontinence (leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.) that may occur following prostate surgery.
  1. To improve/prevent urinary and bowel urgency (“gotta go”) and urinary and bowel urgency incontinence (inability to get to the bathroom on time to prevent an accident).
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic pain due to pelvic floor tension myalgia by learning how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
  1. To help prevent pelvic impairments from high impact sports and saddle sports (e.g., cycling, motorcycling and horseback riding).
  1. To improve core strength, posture, lumbar stability, alignment and balance.
  1. To maintain good health and youthful vitality.

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. 

10 Reasons For Women To Kegel

May 28, 2016

 Andrew Siegel, M.D. 5/28/16

The pelvic floor muscles—a.k.a. the Kegel muscles—are internal, hidden and behind-the-scenes muscles, yet they are vital to a healthy existence. There are numerous advantages to keeping them robust and fit with Kegel pelvic floor exercises.  Today’s entry enumerates why this is the case for females and next week’s entry will detail why Kegels are equally beneficial for males.

 

Cover

10 GOOD REASONS FOR WOMEN TO DO KEGEL EXERCISES

  1. To enable you to have a more comfortable pregnancy, a smoother labor and delivery and a faster recovery.
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic relaxation (dropped bladder, uterus, rectum, etc.) and vaginal laxity (looseness).
  1. To improve/prevent sexual and orgasm issues. 
  1. To enhance sexual pleasure for you and your partner.
  1. To improve/prevent stress urinary incontinence (leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.).
  1. To improve/prevent urinary and bowel urgency (“gotta go”) and urinary and bowel urgency incontinence (inability to get to the bathroom on time to prevent an accident).
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic pain due to pelvic floor tension myalgia by learning how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
  1. To help prevent pelvic impairments from high impact sports and saddle sports (e.g., cycling, motorcycling and horseback riding).
  1. To improve core strength, posture, lumbar stability, alignment and balance.
  1. To maintain good health and youthful vitality.

 

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. 

The Pelvic (Kegel) Revolution

April 23, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  4/23/16

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(photo above: Dr. Arnold Kegel, Gladser Studio, 1953)

A Brief Recap from Last Week

In the 1940s, the seminal work of Los Angeles gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel resulted in pelvic floor exercises achieving the stature and acclaim that they deserved. His legacy is the name that many use to refer to pelvic exercises—“Kegels” or “Kegel exercises.” Despite Kegel’s pelvic regimen proving effective for many female pelvic issues (pelvic relaxation, vaginal laxity and sexual issues, urinary leakage, etc.) what came to be referred to as Kegel exercises in the post-Kegel era had little resemblance to what he so brilliantly described in his classic series of medical articles sixty-five years ago. His regimen incorporated a critical focus and intensity that were unfortunately not upheld in most of the pelvic floor muscle training programs that followed his reign.

The Pelvic (Kegel) Revolution

After years of “stagnancy” following the transformative work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, there is a resurgence of interest in the pelvic floor and in the benefits of pelvic floor training. In 2016, we are in the midst of a pelvic floor “sea change” that is gaining momentum and traction. There is increasing recognition of pelvic floor dysfunction (when pelvic floor function goes awry) as the root cause for a variety of pelvic issues including pelvic organ prolapse, stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain syndromes. There is an evolution in progress with respect to management of pelvic floor dysfunction, including “smart” pelvic floor muscle programs that are tailored to the specific pelvic floor dysfunction, the advent of a host of novel, high-technology pelvic floor training resistance devices and the expanding use of a specialty niche of physical therapy—pelvic floor physical therapy.  Of note, pelvic floor physical therapy has been popular in Europe for many years and it is only recently that its utility has been recognized in the USA. (I am grateful for the wonderful services provided by my pelvic physiotherapy colleagues who have been so helpful and beneficial for many of my patients with pelvic floor dysfunctions.)

It is my belief that the next few years will bear witness to continued advances in pelvic floor muscle training and focus that will restore pelvic training to the classic sense established by Arnold Kegel—a “renaissance” to a new era of “pelvic enlightenment.” Books such as The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (www.TheKegelFix.com) introduce new-age, next-generation pelvic programs—progressive, home-based, tailored exercise programs consisting of strength, power and endurance training regimens—designed and customized for each specific pelvic floor dysfunction. 2016 will usher in the availability of high quality follow-along pelvic training programs, e.g., the PelvicRx (www.PelvicRx.com)—a comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered training regimen accessible via DVD or streaming. Furthermore, based upon Dr. Kegel’s perineometer resistance device, technological advances have resulted in the emergence of numerous pelvic floor muscle training devices, many of which are sophisticated means of providing resistance, biofeedback and tracking, often via Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone. Although most provide the same basic functionality—insertion into the vagina, connection to a smartphone app, biofeedback and tracking—each has its own unique features. This market for resistance devices is evolving at a remarkably rapid pace.

Another major refinement is the concept of functional pelvic fitness—teaching patients how to put their pelvic knowledge and skills to real life use with practical and actionable means of applying pelvic muscle proficiency to daily tasks and common everyday activities, an area that has been sorely neglected in the past, with prior emphasis solely on achieving a conditioned pelvic floor.

An additional element of the pelvic revolution is the increasing awareness and acceptance by the urological-gynecological-gastrointestinal community of the concept that stress and other psychosocial factors can give rise to physical complaints such as pelvic floor tension myalgia, a condition in which the pelvic floor muscles exist in an over-contracted, painful state. At one time, this diagnostic entity was not even a consideration; however, an understanding of this condition is slowly gaining recognition and traction and there is a burgeoning understanding that many pelvic pain issues (interstitial cystitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, prostatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, etc.) can, in actuality, be manifestations of pelvic floor hyper-contractility and over-tensioning.

Pelvic floor physical therapy has become and will continue to be increasingly in vogue. This specialized branch of physical therapy that deals with pelvic floor issues treats a wide range of pelvic floor dysfunctions ranging the gamut from pelvic muscle weakness to pelvic muscle over-tensioning. Pelvic floor physical therapy sessions can be of great help for those with pelvic floor dysfunctions and it is clear that patients do better with supervised regimens than they do without. Pelvic physical therapy is particularly useful for pelvic pain syndromes. In France, the government subsidizes the cost of post-partum pelvic training (“La rééducation périnéale après accouchement”), including up to 20 sessions of pelvic PT intended to tone and “re-educate” the postnatal pelvic muscles.

The final piece of the pelvic revolution is the broadening appreciation that pelvic floor muscle training in males is no less important than in females, potentially beneficial in the management of stress urinary incontinence that follows prostatectomy, overactive bladder, post-void dribbling, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and pelvic pain due to pelvic muscle spasm.

Future Considerations

Demand for the management of pelvic floor disorders will increase over the next decade. There is major growth opportunity for services that utilize non-physician providers (nurse practitioners, physician assistants and physical therapists) to teach patients pelvic muscle training and other behavioral treatments.

If Arnold Kegel were alive today, in all likelihood he would take great pleasure and pride in the breath of life being infused into his seminal work following decades of dormancy. His legacy and the fertile ground and transformative changes nurtured by his pioneering efforts will result in the continued empowerment of patients, with improvement in their pelvic health and quality of life.

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– newly available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo (paperback edition will be available May 2016).

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

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

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health and Promiscuous Eating: Understanding Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food   

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 code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

 

A Brief History of Kegel Exercises

April 16, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  4/16/16

This first piece (of a two-part entry) reviews the history of pelvic floor training from antiquity up to 2015. The second piece (the 4/23/16 entry) is a discussion of the Kegel “renaissance” and “revolution” that is underway. This “sea change” in pelvic floor medicine that is currently evolving in the urology/gynecology medical community will most certainly permeate into the mainstream in the near future.

Muscles_of_the_male_perineum-Gray406Gray408

His and hers pelvic floor muscles (Dr. Henry Gray, Gray’s Anatomy, 1918, public domain)

The pelvic floor muscles have long been recognized as instrumental for their roles in  pelvic organ support, healthy sexual functioning and for their contribution to urinary and bowel control. They also contribute to core stability and postural support. The pelvic muscles anatomically and functionally link the female pelvic organs—the vagina, uterus, bladder and rectum—and also affect the independent function of each. Pelvic muscle “dysfunction” (when the pelvic muscles are impaired and not functioning properly) in females can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse and vaginal looseness, urinary and bowel control problems, sexual issues and pelvic pain (tension myalgia). Pelvic floor dysfunction in males can play a role in the urinary incontinence that follows prostate cancer surgery, dribbling of urine after the completion of urination, erectile dysfunction, ejaculation issues and pelvic pain.

Pelvic floor muscle fitness is vital to healthy pelvic functioning and pelvic muscle training therefore plays an important role in the management of many pelvic conditions. Pelvic muscle training has the potential of not only treating pelvic floor dysfunction, but also delaying and preventing its onset.

Pelvic floor exercises date back over 6000 years ago to Chinese Taoism. The Yogis of ancient India practiced pelvic exercises, performing rhythmic contractions of the anal sphincter muscle (one of the pelvic floor muscles). Hippocrates and Galen described pelvic exercises in ancient Greece and Rome, respectively, where they were performed in the baths and gymnasiums and were thought to promote longevity as well as general health, sexual health and spiritual health.

However, for millennia thereafter, pelvic floor exercises fell into the “dark.” Fast-forward to the 1930s when Margaret Morris, a British physical therapist, described pelvic exercises as a means of preventing and treating urinary and bowel control issues. In the 1940s, the seminal work of Dr. Arnold Kegel resulted in pelvic floor exercises achieving the stature and acclaim that they deserved. Dr. Kegel wrote four classic articles that put the pelvic floor muscles and the concept of training them to achieve pelvic fitness “on the map.” Kegel’s legacy is the actual name that many use to refer to pelvic exercises—“Kegels” or “Kegel exercises.” Kegel determined that a successful program must include four elements: muscle education, feedback, resistance, and progressive intensity. He stressed the need for pelvic floor muscle training as opposed to casual exercises, emphasizing the importance of a diligently performed routine performed with the aid of an intra-vaginal device known as a perineometer to provide both resistance (something to squeeze against) and biofeedback (to ensure that the exercises were being done properly).

Despite Kegel’s pelvic regimen proving effective for many female pelvic issues, what is currently referred to as Kegel exercises bears little resemblance to what he so brilliantly described in his classic series of medical articles sixty-five years ago. His regimen incorporated a critical focus and intensity that are unfortunately not upheld in most of today’s programs.

In the post-Kegel era, we have experienced a regression to the Dark Ages with respect to pelvic training. Easy-to-follow pelvic exercise programs or well-designed means of enabling pelvic exercises to improve pelvic floor health have been sorely lacking in availability. The programs that are out there typically involve vague verbal instructions and a pamphlet suggesting a several month regimen of ten or so pelvic contractions squeezing against no resistance, to be done several times daily during “down” times. These static programs typically do not offer more challenging exercises over time. Such Kegel “knockoffs” and watered-down, adulterated versions—even those publicized by esteemed medical institutions—are lacking in guidance, feedback and rigor, demand little time and effort and often ignore the benefit of resistance, thus accounting for their ineffectiveness. With women often unable to identify their pelvic muscles or properly perform the training, outcomes are less than favorable and the frustration level and high abandonment rate with these regimens is hardly surprising.

Bottom Line: In the post-Kegel era, pelvic floor muscle training has been an often ignored, neglected, misunderstood, under-respected and under-exploited resource.

Coming next week: The Kegel Revolution

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– newly available on Amazon Kindle (paperback and Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo editions will be available in May 2016).

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

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

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health and Promiscuous Eating: Understanding Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food   

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

The Clitoris and Clitoral Priapism

November 7, 2015

Andrew Siegel, MD    11/7/15

Pompeii_Priapus_2

(Fresco of PriapusCasa dei VettiiPompeii, in public domain)

The clitoris is the female version of the penis. However, the clitoris is a much more subtle and mysterious organ, a curiosity to women and men alike. It is similar to the penis in that it becomes engorged when stimulated and because of its concentration of nerve fibers, is the site where most orgasms are triggered. On rare occasions, the clitoris can become rigidly engorged for a prolonged time, a painful condition known as clitoral priapism.

Clitoral Anatomy and Function 101

The clitoris is an organ that has as its express purpose sexual function, as opposed to the penis, which is both a sexual, urinary and reproductive organ. This erectile organ is the hub of female sensual focus and is the most sensitive erogenous zone of the body, playing a vital role in sensation and orgasm.

Similar to the penis, the clitoris is composed of an external visible part and internal, deeper, “invisible” parts. The inner parts of the clitoris are known as crura (legs), which are shaped like a wishbone with each side attached to the pubic arch as it descends and diverges. The visible part is located above the opening of the urethra, where the inner labia join together. Like the penis, it has a glans (head) and shaft (body), and is covered by a hood of tissue that is the female equivalent of the prepuce (foreskin). The glans of the clitoris, typically only the size of a pea, is a dense bundle of sensory nerve fibers, thought to have greater nerve density than any other body part. Much the same as the penis, the clitoris houses paired erectile chambers that contain spongy sinuses that engorge with blood at the time of sexual stimulation, resulting in a clitoral erection.

With the increase in genital and pelvic blood flow that occurs with sexual stimulation, the penile and clitoral shafts thicken and lengthen accompanied by swelling of the glans. Two of the superficial pelvic floor muscles—the bulbocavernosus and ischiocavernosus –-engage and compress the crura of the clitoris and penis, fundamental to maintaining engorgement and clitoral and penile blood pressures that are in excess of systemic blood pressures.

Priapism

The word priapism is derived from Priapus, the name of the Greek and Roman mythological God of fertility. He is commonly portrayed in classical artwork as having a disproportionately huge penis.

Engorgement and rigidity—whether penile or clitoral—is an ingenious hydraulic design and feat of nature. On occasion the system fails and the engorgement/erection does not subside. This condition is known as priapisman unwanted, persistent, painful engorgement that is not on the basis of sexual stimulation. It has the potential risk of damaging the anatomy such that future engorgement and erectile function can be compromised.

Although priapism is much more commonly a male problem, it occasionally involves the female clitoris. Clitoral priapism is an emergency situation in which there is clitoral shaft engorgement and swelling resulting in clitoral, vulvar and perineal pain. Similar to penile priapism, there are many different underlying causes including blood and nerve disorders or side effects from prescribed or recreational medications.

Doppler ultrasound can be useful to check the flow in the arteries to the erectile chambers. Treatment may involve injection of a blood vessel constricting medicine directly into the erectile chambers. Surgical treatment sometimes becomes necessary, usually “shunting” techniques to promote drainage of blood. In one such shunting procedure, a surgical opening is made between the head of the clitoris and the erectile chambers to create an avenue for the exit of the blood.

Bottom Line: Clitoral priapism is a rare occurrence in which there is prolonged clitoral engorgement/erection resulting in swelling and pain. Like penile priapism, this is not s problem that should be ignored. Prompt medical attention can manage the situation and help prevent the possiblity of sexual dysfunction resulting from scarring and impaired erectile capacity.

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 Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym, a comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training program. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, Private Gym empowers men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.

Male Pelvic Pain: A Charley Horse in the Pelvis

October 25, 2014

Andrew Siegel MD

shutterstock_orange gu tract closeup

Pelvic pain is certainly not a problem unique to males as it can affect both men and women—anyone who has pelvic floor muscles—but the subject of female pelvic pain is a topic for another day.

The term “chronic prostatitis” is a frequent diagnosis tagged to a variety of different conditions having in common discomfort or pain perceived in the pelvic region. It is a wastebasket diagnosis, made after other processes are ruled out, and a term as commonly used by the urologist as “irritable bowel syndrome” is by the gastroenterologist. Traditionally, the prostate has been treated as the source of the pelvic pain, but the truth of the matter is that the prostate is rarely the source.

Ninety-five percent of men diagnosed with “chronic prostatitis” do not have an infected or inflamed prostate gland. What many actually have is tension myalgia of the pelvic floor muscles, a condition of the pelvic floor muscles in which they are tense, spastic and hyper-contractile. Essentially, this is a “headache” of the pelvis driven by spastic pelvic floor muscles.

The pelvis is simply a very bad place for spastic muscles because it is home to urinary, sexual and bowel function. This causes pain and often tenderness to touch, creating the feeling that one’s pelvic muscles are “tied in a knot.” The pain is often perceived in the genitals, lower urinary tract, and rectum/anal areas, and accompanying the pain are often adverse effects on sexual, urinary, and bowel function.

It can be brought on by anxiety, stress and other circumstances and is thought to be an abnormality with the nerve pathway that regulates muscle tone. Characteristically, the pain waxes and wanes in intensity over time and wanders to different locations in the pelvis, possibly involving the lower abdomen, groin, pubic area, penis, scrotum, testicles, perineum, anus, rectum, hips, and lower back.

Patients often have difficulty in articulating the precise symptoms that brought them into the office, although they usually have a long list of issues, lots of prior interventions, and have seen many physicians. The pain is often described as “stabbing” in quality and can be provoked by urination, bowel movements or sexual activity/ejaculation or even driving a car or wearing tight clothing.

After identifying tension myalgia of the pelvic floor muscles in a number of patients, it truly seems to be such an obvious diagnosis. It comes down to a careful history and a physical exam, which includes an evaluation for trigger points of the pelvic floor muscles that, when examined, cause tremendous pain. Most male patients diagnosed with chronic prostatitis and interstitial cystitis probably have tension myalgia of the pelvic floor. In fact, pelvic floor tension myalgia is probably one of the most common problems that urologists see and is likely one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions in the discipline of medicine.

Tension myalgia is also implicated in voiding difficulties (difficulty starting or emptying, poor quality stream, post-void dribbling), overactive bladder (urgency, frequency, urgency incontinence), erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction (premature ejaculation, painful ejaculation, reduced ejaculatory strength), and bowel difficulties (constipation, hemorrhoids, fissure, etc.).

The patient profile of a man with tension myalgia of the pelvic floor is very predictable. A thirty-something or forty-something well-dressed male with excellent posture and a type A personality (competitive, ambitious, organized, impatient, etc.) presents with vague pelvic pain symptoms that he has difficulty in describing. In addition to the pain he often notes urinary, rectal, erectile and ejaculatory issues. He usually has a professional, high-level, stressful occupation and his physical appearance and body language is “tight,” paralleling the tone of his pelvic floor muscles. He tends to be “driven” and seems to have a compulsive, controlling and disciplined personality and typically exercises on a regular basis and is in good physical shape.

He has been to numerous urologists and has been treated with many courses of prolonged antibiotics (to minimal benefit) and has been labeled as having chronic prostatitis. He is miserable and perhaps at wits end because of the negative effects on his quality of life and having endured years of episodic agony. He typically is very worried and emotionally stressed about his pain. It is not uncommon to discover that the pain seemed to be precipitated by a situation deemed to be a personal failure such as involvement in a divorce, loss of a job or other event. On rectal exam, he has very tight tone and has tenderness, spasticity and often knots that can be felt within the levator ani muscles, similar to the tension knots that can develop in one’s back muscles.

It is theorized that this chronically over-contracted group of muscles is a manifestation of stress and anxiety turned inwards, a classic example of the mind-body connection in action. This state of “chronic over-vigilance” of the pelvic floor muscles seemingly serves the purpose of guarding and protecting the genital area. When anxiety expresses itself through tension in the pelvic floor, the physical tension further contributes to the emotional anxiety and stress, which creates a vicious cycle.

In many ways it is similar to tension headaches, a not uncommon response to stress. To use an example from the animal kingdom, tension myalgia of the pelvic floor parallels what a frightened dog does when it pulls its tail between its legs. Sadly, conventional urologic practice is very nuts-and-bolts mechanistic and has been glacially slow to accept the concept that stress and other psychosocial factors can give rise to urological diseases. However, an understanding of this issue is slowly gaining traction and recognition and we are approaching a tipping point in which this type of diagnosis will be made on a more frequent basis in the near future.

To manage tension myalgia, it is necessary to foster relaxation of the spastic pelvic floor muscles and untie the “knot.” There are a variety of means of doing so, including relaxation techniques, stretching, hot baths, massage, and muscle relaxants. Many respond well to physical therapy sessions with skilled pelvic physiotherapists who are capable of trigger point therapy, which involves compressing and massaging the knotted and spastic muscles

Those who are so motivated can treat themselves with a therapeutic internal trigger point release rectal wand that aims to eliminate/mitigate the knots. This treatment is referred to as the Stanford pelvic pain protocol or alternatively, the Wise-Anderson protocol (designed by David Wise, a psychologist, Rodney Anderson, a urologist, and Tim Sawyer, a physiotherapist).

When used judiciously, pelvic floor muscle training programs can be of benefit to pelvic floor muscle tension myalgia. A good program (aside from the emphasis on strength training of the pelvic floor muscles) serves to instill awareness of and develop proficiency in relaxing the pelvic muscles as one cycles through the phases of contraction and relaxation. (The principle is that maximal muscle contraction induces maximal muscle relaxation, a “meditative” state between muscle contractions.) One must be very careful in contracting muscles that are already spastic and hyper-contractile, as pain can potentially be aggravated by such activity.

Bottom Line: When a man presents will pelvic pain, the diagnosis of pelvic floor muscle tension myalgia should be a primary consideration. Physical interventions can be extremely helpful in alleviating the pain and untying the “knot.” By making the proper diagnosis and providing pain relief, the vicious cycle of anxiety/pain can be broken.

For a wonderful reference, consult: Dr. Wise and Anderson’s book, A Headache in the Pelvis: A New Understanding and Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes.

 

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

Note: As Arnold Kegel popularized pelvic floor muscle exercises in females in the late 1940’s, so I am working towards the goal of popularizing pelvic floor muscle exercises in males. This year I published a review article in the Gold Journal of Urology entitled Pelvic Floor Muscle Training in Men: Practical Applications to disseminate the importance and applications of these exercises to my urology colleagues. I wrote Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health, a book intended to educate the non-medical population. I, along with my partner David Mandell and our superb pelvic floor team, co-created the Private Gym male pelvic floor exercise DVD and resistance program.

For more info on the book: www.MalePelvicFitness.com

For more info on the Private Gym: www.PrivateGym.com

Man Kegels (Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises for Men)-Part 2

March 15, 2014

Andrew Siegel MD, Blog# 145

photo

The photo above was taken by a pharmaceutical rep friend who discovered this phallic carving among the Roman ruins in Fez, Morocco.

The following is largely excerpted from my forthcoming book, Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health, available in April 2014:

With respect to sexuality, medical publications—and more specifically the urological literature—rarely, if ever make mention of targeted exercise as a means of optimizing function or helping to treat a dysfunction. The preeminent urology textbook, Campbell’s Urology, a 4000 page, 4-volume tome, devotes precisely one paragraph to the use of pelvic floor muscle exercises in the management of male sexual dysfunction and makes no mention of its use in maximizing sexual function.

Despite numerous studies and research demonstrating the effectiveness of targeted pelvic exercises, they have been given short shrift. Part of the reason for this is simply that there has never been an easy-to-follow exercise program or well-designed means of facilitating pelvic floor muscle training in men. Instead, there is an emphasis on oral medications, urethral suppositories, penile injections, vacuum devices and penile implants. In the United States we have a pharmacology-centric medical culture—“a pill for every ill”—with aggressive prescription writing by physicians and a patient population that expects a quick fix.

It is shameful that traditionally there has been such little emphasis on lifestyle improvement—healthy diet, weight management, exercising, and avoidance of tobacco, excessive alcohol and stress—as a means of preventing and improving sexual dysfunction.

In addition to general lifestyle measures, specific exercises targeted at the pelvic floor can confer great benefits to pelvic health and fitness, an important element of overall health and fitness. The pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are critical to healthy  sexual function and achieving fitness in this domain is advantageous on many levels: to enhance sexual health; to maintain sexual health; to help prevent the occurrence of sexual dysfunction in the future; and to aid in the management of sexual dysfunction. PFM exercises should be considered first-line treatment of sexual dysfunction and a safe and natural self-improvement approach ideally suited to the male population, including the baby boomers, generation X, and generation Y.  PFM fitness can serve as an effective means to help keep the boomers “booming.”

I do not mean to downplay and disparage the role of medications and other options in managing sexual dysfunction. The availability of that magic blue pill in April 1998—Viagra—was a seminal moment in the world of male sexual dysfunction that enabled for the first time a simple and effective means of treating erectile dysfunction (ED).  On the polar opposite end of the treatment spectrum—but of no less importance—was the development and refinement of the penile implant, used in severe cases of ED unresponsive to less invasive options.

But why should we not initially try to capitalize on simpler, safer, and more natural solutions and consider, for example, using a targeted exercise program or medications in conjunction with a targeted exercise program?  Sexual function is all about blood flow to the penis and pelvis.  And what better way to enhance blood flow than to exercise?  We engage in exercise programs for virtually every other muscle group in the body.  Working out our PFM can result in a strong, robust and toned pelvic floor, capable of supporting and sustaining sexual function to the maximum.

Physical therapy is a well-accepted discipline that is commonly used for disabilities and rehabilitation after injury or surgery.  The goal of a physical therapy regimen is to promote mobility, functional restoration and quality of life. A targeted PFM exercise regimen can be considered the equivalent of genital and pelvic physical therapy with the goal of increasing the bulk, strength, power and function of the PFM.

The PFM can be thought of as a vital partner to our sexual organs, whose collaboration is an absolute necessity for optimal sexual functioning, little different than the relationship between the diaphragm muscle and the lungs. The role of the PFM in sexual function has been vastly undervalued and understated. The hard truth is that a well-conditioned pelvic floor that can be vigorously contracted and relaxed at will is often capable of improving sexual prowess and functioning as much as fitness training can enhance athletic performance and endurance.

Such targeted exercises confer advantages that go way beyond the sexual domain. These often-neglected muscles are vital to our genital-urinary health and wellness and serve an essential role in urinary function, bowel function and prostate health.  Additionally, they are important contributors to lumbar stability, spinal alignment and the prevention of back pain. Specifically, PFM exercises can be beneficial with respect to the following spectrum of issues: erectile dysfunction; orgasmic dysfunction; premature ejaculation; urinary incontinence; overactive bladder; post-void dribbling; pelvic pain due to levator muscle spasm; bowel urgency and incontinence; and in mitigating damage incurred from saddle sports including cycling, motorcycling and horseback riding.

The PFM, comprised of muscles that form a muscular shelf that spans the gap between our pelvic bones, form the base of our “core” muscles.  Our core muscles are the “barrel” of muscles in our midsection.  The top of our core is our diaphragm, the sides are our abdominal, flank, and back muscles, and the bottom of the barrel are our PFM.

The core muscles, including the PFM, are not the glitzy muscles of the body—not those muscles that are for show. Our core muscles are often ignored and do not get much respect, as opposed to the external glamour muscles of our body, including the pectorals, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, latissimus, etc.  In general, muscles that have such “mirror appeal” are not those that will help in terms of sexual and urinary function. Our core muscles are the hidden gems that work diligently behind the scenes—the muscles of major function and not so much form—muscles that have a role that goes way beyond movement, which is the cardinal task of a skeletal muscle.  On a functional basis, we would be much better off having a “chiseled” core as opposed to having “ripped” external muscles, as there is no benefit to having all “show” and no “go.”

The pelvic floor seems to be the lowest caste of the core muscles—the musculus non grata, if you will kindly accept my term. The PFM, however, do deserve serious respect because, although concealed from view, they are responsible for some very powerful and beneficial functions, particularly so when intensified by training.  Although the PFM are not muscles of glamour, they are our muscles of “amour.”

Who Knew? Having “ripped” external glamour muscles might help get your romance going, but having a chiseled core and conditioned PFM will help keep it going…and going…and going!

The female pelvic floor muscles, exercises for which were popularized by gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel, have long been recognized as an important structural and functional component of the female pelvis. But who has ever heard of the male pelvic floor?  The male pelvic floor has been largely unrecognized and relegated as having far less significance than the female pelvic floor.  Yet from a functional standpoint, these muscles are of vital importance, certainly as critical to male genital-urinary health as they are to female genital-urinary health.

The PFM, as with other muscles in the body, are subject to the forces of adaptation.  Unused as they are intended, they can suffer from “disuse atrophy.” Used appropriately as designed by nature, they can remain in a healthy structural and functional state. When targeted exercise is applied to them, particularly against the forces of resistance, their structure and function, as that of any other skeletal muscle, can be enhanced.

The key responsibility of most of our skeletal muscles is for joint movement and locomotion. The core muscles in general, and the PFM in particular, are exceptions to this rule.  Although the core muscles do play a role with respect to movement, of equal importance is their contribution to support, stability, and posture. Consider that the pelvic floor muscles, particularly the superficial PFM, have an essential function in the support, stability and “posture” of the penis.  They should be considered the hidden “jewels” of the pelvis.

Who Knew? If you want your penis to have “outstanding” posture and stability, you want to make sure that your PFM are kept fit and well-conditioned.

The PFM have three main functions that can be summarized by three S’s: support, sphincter, and sex. Support refers to their important role in securing our pelvic organs—the urinary, genital and intestinal tracts—in proper anatomical position. Sphincter function allows us to interrupt our urinary stream and pucker the anus and contributes in a major way to urinary and bowel control.  These vital responsibilities are generally taken for granted until something goes awry. With regard to sexual function, the PFM are active during erection and ejaculation.  They cause a surge of penile blood flow that helps maintain a rigid penile erection throughout sexual activity and at the time of orgasm, contract rhythmically, enabling ejaculation by propelling semen through the urethra.

The PFM can become atrophied, flabby and poorly functional with aging, weight gain, a sedentary lifestyle, saddle sports and other forms of injury and trauma, chronic straining, and surgery.  Sexual inactivity can lead to their loss of tone, texture, and function.  However, PFM integrity and optimum functioning can be maintained into our golden years with attention to a healthy lifestyle, an active sex life, and PFM training, particularly when such exercises are performed against progressive resistance.  The goal of such a regimen is the attainment of broader, thicker and firmer PFM and maintenance and/or restoration of function.

The PFM may physically be the bottom of the barrel of our core, but functionally they are furthermost from the bottom of the barrel.  For those who are already functioning well, an intensive PFM training program—as with any good fitness regimen—can impart better performance, increased strength (rigidity), improved endurance (ejaculatory control), and decreased recovery time (the amount of time it takes to achieve another erection).  Keeping the PFM supple and healthy can help prevent the typical decline in function that accompanies the aging process. On so many domains, diligently practiced PFM exercises will allow one to reap tangible rewards, as they are the very essence of functional fitness—training one’s body to handle real-life situations and overcome life’s daily obstacles.

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in April 2014.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in Kindle edition

Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity  (free electronic download) www.findyourfountainofyouth.com 

Amazon page: amazon.com/author/andrewsiegel

For more info on Dr. Siegel: http://www.about.me/asiegel913