Posts Tagged ‘sexual dysfunction’

When He’s Interested and She’s Not: A Common Dilemma of the Aging Couple

October 20, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD   10/20/2018

2018-05-26 16.21.35

Photo taken at Icelandic Phallological Museum, Reykjavik: note that the stallion is braying, stomping and ready in every respect, while the mare seems rather indifferent

This entry is based upon my more than 30 years of experience in the urological “trenches” with innumerable daily interactions with male patients (often accompanied by their spouses). I have observed that much of the time when it comes to sexuality, “men are from Mars and women from Venus.”  I do not intend in any way to be disparaging or offend females, but only to report—as I see it—the not uncommon finding of the discrepant and diverging sexual appetites of the aging male as opposed to the aging female.  When I use the term “aging,” I am not referring only to octogenarians, but also to middle-aged and perhaps even younger couples.

Sex is a vital aspect of human existence—instinctual, hard-wired and a biological imperative. Nature has created the ultimate “bait and switch” in which reproduction (procreation) is linked with a pleasurable physical act (recreation), ensuring mating and, ultimately, perpetuation of the species.

Yet sex is so much more than an act of physical pleasure. For men, it is emblematic of potency, virility, fertility, and masculine identity. For women, it represents femininity, desirability and vitality. For both genders, it is an expression of physical and emotional intimacy, a means of communication and bonding that occurs in the context of skin-to-skin, face-time contact that gives rise to happiness, confidence, self-esteem and quality of life. In addition to sexual health being an important piece of overall health, it also provides comfort, security and ritual that permeate positively into many other areas of our existence. No matter what our chronological age, our need for physical and emotional intimacy never perishes.

Considering that nature’s ultimate purpose of sex is for reproduction, perhaps it is not surprising that when the body is no longer capable of producing offspring, changes occur that affect the anatomy and function of the genital organs.  However, long after the reproductive years are over and parenthood is no longer a consideration, many humans still wish to be able to function sexually.  For men this entails possessing a satisfactory libido (sex drive), the ability to obtain and maintain a reasonably rigid and durable erection, the capacity to ejaculate and experience a climax and, of course, to please their partners.  For women this entails having adequate sexual desire and interest, the ability to become aroused and lubricated, and the capacity to achieve orgasm as well as please their partners.

The aging process can be unkind and Father Time (as well as the ravages of poor lifestyle habits, medical issues and their treatment and other factors) does not spare sexual function.  For men, all aspects of sexuality decline, although sexual interest and drive suffer the least depreciation, leading to men who are eager, but frequently unable to achieve a rigid erection—a frustrating combination.  Age-related changes that affect male sexuality include penile shrinkage, decreased libido, diminished erectile rigidity and durability, more feeble ejaculations (less semen, less force, less arc) and less climactic orgasms.  The male downswing in sexual function usually has a slow and gradual trajectory that is based on many factors, with the progressive decline in testosterone production that occurs with aging (“andropause”) one of the key contributing factors.

For women, all aspects of sexuality decline as well. Age-related changes that affect female sexuality include vaginal and vulval dryness, irritation and thinning, vaginal narrowing and shortening, reduced sex drive, decreased arousal and lubrication, diminished ability to achieve an orgasm and a tendency for painful intercourse. Issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse can put a further damper on sexual function.  The female downswing in sexual function occurs more precipitously than the male decline—although on the basis of numerous factors, an important one is the cessation of estrogen production by the ovaries that occurs after menopause, typically in the early 50s.

In addition to the physical and hormonal factors that may contribute to decreased sexual activity of the aging couple, there are many other considerations that come into play: After many years of marriage, the novelty factor wears off; priorities change; couples are often busy and fatigued with work, child-rearing and other responsibilities; emergence of urological, gynecological, orthopedic/joint problems, etc., psychological conditions (anxiety, stress and depression having to do with aging, health and other causes); and side effects from medications.   Ultimately, emotional intimacy can become more important to one (or both) partner(s) than physical intimacy.

In the population of patients that I care for (which may be skewed since I am a urologist who often treat men with sexual issues), I have perceived that in general—with exception—the aging male has a more robust sexual desire than his partner.  I have observed many men eager for the possibility of improving erectile function via chemical and other means (Viagra, Cialis, etc.), while his partner does not share his enthusiasm.

In most first marriages (commonly age late 20s to early 30s), men are typically a few years older than the women they marry. However, the older that men are when they marry, the greater the differential in age between them and their spouses, holding true in both first and second marriages. Perhaps age-related diverging sexual desires among males and females are among the factors that may help explain this phenomenon.

So, what to do?

Each partner in a relationship should make an effort to be more understanding of and sympathetic to their partner’s situation and needs and strive to compromise and find middle ground. Psychological counseling may be of great benefit to the couple suffering with the issue of libido imbalance.  Urologists and gynecologists can help male and female patients, respectively, with libido and other issues of sexual dysfunction.

Whereas male sexual dysfunction has received considerable attention and many management options are available, female sexual dysfunction by comparison has received short shrift.  Fortunately, the tides are changing and female sexual dysfunction—paralleling the male situation—has come out of the closet, is the subject of ongoing research and is now a subspecialty of gynecology with numerous management choices available.

Decreased sexual desire in males and females can often be successfully managed with hormone replacement therapy, estrogen and testosterone, respectively, when used in the proper circumstances under medical supervision.  Addyi (Flibanserin)—sometimes referred to as “female Viagra”—is a recently available pill that can effectively manage decreased female sexual desire.  Over the counter lubricants and moisturizers can help manage vaginal dryness and discomfort associated with sexual intercourse. Small amounts of topically applied estrogen or DHEA can be helpful as well. Oral ospemifene (a selective estrogen receptor modulator) may also be used successfully for vaginal dryness and painful intercourse related to menopause.  Fractional carbon dioxide laser treatments applied to the vagina may also prove beneficial when used under the right circumstances.  For the male with erectile dysfunction, there are numerous options to help restore erectile rigidity in the event that the oral pharmaceuticals are ineffective.

Despite the importance of sex, for many couples emotional intimacy can be equally important to, if not more so, than physical intimacy. Furthermore, all forms of sex can be enjoyable and there are numerous ways one can sexually satisfy one’s partner aside from penetrative penile-vaginal intercourse with both partners capable of achieving sexual gratification and climax without the involvement of an erect penis.

Bottom Line: A mismatch in sexual desire is a common issue among partners. Important factors are gradually declining testosterone levels in men and the more sudden decrease in estrogen levels in women.  The recently introduced concept of “couple-pause” is a couple-oriented approach that strives to address the sexual needs of the couple as a whole, rather than an isolated approach to one individual of the pair.  The good news is that disparity of intensity of sexual drive and interest among partners as well as other forms of sexual dysfunction are issues that can be addressed and improved, if not resolved.

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

 

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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

 

Rectoceles And Perineal Laxity: What You Need To Know

May 20, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/20/17

recto copy

Image above: protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina, a.k.a. rectocele (blue arrow); also note catheter in urethra (red arrow) and gaping vagina with scarring of tissues between vagina and anus, a.k.a. perineum (white arrow)

A rectocele is a specific type of pelvic organ prolapse in which the pelvic floor muscles and connective supporting tissue between the lower vaginal wall and rectum weaken, allowing protrusion of the rectum into the floor of the vagina and at times outside the vaginal opening. This not uncommonly follows vaginal childbirth, which places tremendous stresses on the tissues that provide to support of the pelvic organs. Other risk factors for the occurrence of a rectocele are chronic straining, menopause and weight gain.

Rectoceles are also known by the terms “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” and “rectal hernia.” The most common symptom is an annoying vaginal bulge that worsens with assuming the upright position and being active and tends to improve with sitting, lying down and being sedentary. It is often quite noticeable when straining to move one’s bowels. It can give rise to bowel difficulties—most notably what is referred to as “obstructed defecation”—including constipation, incomplete bowel emptying, diarrhea and fecal incontinence. The prolapsed rectum often needs to be manipulated back into position in order to be able to effectively move one’s bowels. Rectoceles can also cause vaginal pressure, vaginal pain and painful sexual intercourse.

Relevant trivia: The word “rectum” derives from the Latin word meaning “straight,” because under normal circumstances the rectum is a straight chute, facilitating bowel movements. The presence of a rectocele causes kinking of the rectum to occur, destroying this anatomical arrangement and making bowel movements difficult without “splinting” the rectum (straightening it out) using one or more fingers placed in the vagina.

Often accompanying a rectocele is laxity of the perineal muscles, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. This causes a widened vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal angle. Women who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina. This may lead to difficulty keeping a tampon in position without it falling out, the vagina filling with water while bathing, vaginal flatulence (the embarrassing passage of air) and sexual issues including difficulty retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse and difficulty achieving orgasm. Perineal laxity may result in the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it during sexual intercourse, with the end result diminished pleasurable sensation for both partners. The perception of having a loose vagina and altered anatomy can lead to self-esteem and other psychological issues.

Relevant trivia: Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner vaginal lips, there will be limited clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom.

Management of Rectoceles

Rectoceles can be managed conservatively with pelvic floor exercises, behavioral modifications and consideration for using a pessary. Alternatively, surgical treatment, a.k.a. pelvic reconstruction, is often necessary for more extensive rectoceles or for those that do not respond to conservative measures.

Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate rectocele, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the muscles that play a key role in the support of the rectum and perineum. Weak pelvic muscles can undoubtedly be strengthened; however, if there is connective tissue damage, pelvic training will not remedy the injury, but does serve to strengthen the muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. If not completely cured with PFMT, the rectocele and perineal laxity can still be improved, and that might be sufficient.  Chapter 5 in The Kegel Fix book  (www.TheKegelFix.com) is devoted to a specific PFMT regimen for rectoceles and other forms of pelvic organ prolapse.  Note that if the pelvic floor muscles are torn or widely separated, PFMT will not be productive until surgical repair is performed.

Another component of conservative management is modification of activities that promote the rectocele (heavy lifting and high impact exercises), management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure, weight loss, smoking cessation and consideration for estrogen hormone replacement, since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device that is available in a variety of sizes and shapes and is inserted into the vagina where it acts as a “strut” to help provide pelvic support and keep the rectum in proper position. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Surgery is often necessary in the case of a symptomatic moderate-severe rectocele, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. This type of surgery is most often done vaginally, typically on an outpatient basis. Both the rectocele and the perineal laxity are addressed.  The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal dimensions and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bowel and sexual function.  With improvement of anatomy, function often significantly improves, since function often follows form. Difficulties with evacuation, constipation, straining, incomplete emptying and fecal incontinence should improve, if not resolve. There should no longer be a need to splint the rectum and sexual function (for both patient and partner) should dramatically improve with the rebuilding of the perineum.

Marietta S pre-PP

Pre-operative photo–note gaping vulva, exposed vagina, rectocele and perineal laxity; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Mariette S 6 wk p.o. PP

Post-operative photo–note closed vulva, unexposed vagina and restored perineum after levatorplasty, vaginoplasty, perineorrhaphy and aesthetic perineoplasty; (c) Michael P Goodman, MD. Used with permission

 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from Dr. Siegel’s The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (Chapter 5. Pelvic Organ Prolapse)

DON’T Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles… TRAIN Them

April 1, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  4/1/2017

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

1116_Muscle_of_the_Perineum (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

The Little Muscles That Could: The Mysterious Muscles You Should Be Exercising

November 5, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 11/5/2016

This entry was a feature article in the Fall 2016 edition of BC The Magazine: Health, Beauty & Fitness.

(A new blog is posted weekly. To receive the blogs via email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com)

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Image above: female pelvic floor muscles, illustration by Ashley Halsey from The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health

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Image above: male pelvic floor muscles, illustration by Christine Vecchione from Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

There are over 600 muscles in the human body and they all are there for good reasons. However, some are more critical to health and survival than others. In the class rank it is a no-brainer that the heart muscle is valedictorian, followed by the diaphragm. What may surprise you is that the pelvic floor muscles (a.k.a. Kegel muscles) rank in the top ten of the hierarchy.

The pelvic floor muscles are a muscular hammock that make up the floor of the “core” muscles. They are located in the nether regions and form the bottom of the pelvis. They are among the most versatile muscles in the body, equally essential in both women and men for the support of the pelvic organs, bladder and bowel control and sexual function. Because they are out of sight they are frequently out of mind and often not considered when it comes to exercise and fitness. However, without functional pelvic muscles, our pelvic organs would dangle and we would be diapered and asexual.

Our bodies are comprised of a variety of muscle types: There are the glamour, for show, mirror-appeal, overt, seen and be witnessed muscles that offer no secrets—“what you see is what you get”—the biceps, triceps, pectorals, latissimus, quadriceps, etc. Then there are muscles including the pelvic floor muscles that are shrouded in secrecy, hidden from view, concealed and covert, unseen and behind the scenes, unrecognized and misunderstood, favoring function over form, “go” rather than “show.” Most of us can probably point out our “bi’s” (biceps), “tri’s” (triceps), “quads” (quadriceps), “pecs” (pectorals), etc., but who really knows where their “pelvs” (pelvic floor muscles) are located? For that matter, who even knows what they are and how they contribute to pelvic health?

Strong puritanical cultural roots influence our thoughts and feelings about our nether regions. Consequently, this “saddle” region of our bodies (the part in contact with a bicycle seat)—often fails to attain the respect and attention that other zones of our bodies command. Cloaking increases mystique, and so it is for these pelvic muscles, not only obscured by clothing, but also residing in that most curious of regions–an area concealed from view even when we are unclothed. Furthermore, the mystique is contributed to by the mysterious powers of the pelvic floor muscles, which straddle the gamut of being critical for what may be considered the most pleasurable and refined of human pursuits—sex—but equally integral to what may be considered the basest of human activities—bowel and bladder function.

The deep pelvic floor muscles span from the pubic bone in front to the tailbone in the back, and from pelvic sidewall to pelvic sidewall, between the “sit” bones. The superficial pelvic floor muscles are situated under the surface of the external genitals and anus. The pelvic floor muscles are stabilizers and compressors rather than movers (joint movement and locomotion), the more typical role that skeletal muscles such as these play. Stabilizers support the pelvic organs, keeping them in proper position. Compressors act as sphincters—enveloping the urinary, gynecological and intestinal tracts, opening and closing to provide valve-like control. The superficial pelvic floor muscles act to compress the deep roots of the genitals, trapping blood within these structures and preparing the male and female sexual organs for sexual intercourse; additionally, they contract rhythmically at the time of sexual climax. Although the pelvic floor muscles are not muscles of glamour, they are certainly muscles of “amour”!

Pelvic floor muscle “dysfunction” is a common condition referring to when the pelvic floor muscles are not functioning properly. It affects both women and men and can seriously impact the quality of one’s life. The condition can range from “low tone” to “high tone.” Low tone occurs when the pelvic muscles lack in strength and endurance and is often associated with stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising and other physical activities); pelvic organ prolapse (when one or more of the female pelvic organs falls into the space of the vagina and at times outside the vagina); and altered sexual function, e.g., erectile dysfunction or vaginal looseness.  High tone occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are over-tensioned and unable to relax, giving rise to a pain syndrome known as pelvic floor tension myalgia.

A first-line means of dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction is getting these muscles in tip-top shape. Tapping into and harnessing their energy can help optimize pelvic, sexual and urinary health in both genders. Like other skeletal muscles, the pelvic muscles are capable of making adaptive changes when targeted exercise is applied to them. Pelvic floor training involves gaining facility with both the contracting and the relaxing phases of pelvic muscle function. Their structure and function can be enhanced, resulting in broader, thicker and firmer muscles and the ability to generate a powerful contraction at will—necessary for pelvic wellbeing.

Pelvic floor muscle training can be effective in stabilizing, improving and even preventing issues with pelvic support, sexual function, and urinary and bowel control. Pursuing pelvic floor muscle training before pregnancy will make carrying the pregnancy easier and will facilitate labor and delivery; it will also allow for the effortless resumption of the exercises in the post-partum period in order to re-tone the vagina, as the exercises were learned under ideal circumstances, prior to childbirth. Similarly, engaging in pelvic training before prostate cancer surgery will facilitate the resumption of urinary control and sexual function after surgery. Based upon solid exercise science, pelvic floor muscle training can help maintain pelvic integrity and optimal function well into old age.

Bottom Line: Although concealed from view, the pelvic floor muscles are extremely important muscles that deserve serious respect. These muscles are responsible for powerful and vital functions that can be significantly improved/enhanced when intensified by training. It is never too late to begin pelvic floor muscle training exercises—so start now to optimize your pelvic, sexual, urinary, and bowel health.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Andrew Siegel MD practices in Maywood, NJ. He is dual board-certified in urology and female pelvic medicine/reconstructive surgery and is Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and attending urologist at Hackensack University Medical Center. He is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro area and Top Doctor New Jersey. He is the author ofTHE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (www.TheKegelFix.com) and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health (www.MalePelvicFitness.com). He is co-creator of PelvicRx, an interactive, FDA-registered pelvic floor muscle-training program that empowers men to increase their pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, and endurance. Combining the proven effectiveness of Kegel exercises with the use of resistance, this program helps improve sexual function and urinary function. In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training for women. Visit: http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com to obtain PelvicRx. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount.

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

September 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel  MD  9/24/2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

 

 

 

 

Loose (Vaginal) Lips Sink Ships

September 17, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 9/17/2016

-Loose_lips_might_sink_ships-_-_NARA_-_513543

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

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

Obstetrical Factors Can CauseLoose Lips”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sink Ships”

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

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

–Allyson, age 38

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

–Leah, age 43

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

–Karen, age 66

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

–Brittany, age 29

How “Loose Lips” Affect You and Your Partner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pelvic Injuries From Childbirth

September 10, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  9/10/2016  

Smellie_forceps

Image above: William Smellie (1697-1763): A Set of Anatomical Tables with Explanations and an Abridgement of the Practice of Midwifery, 1754.

The female bony pelvis provides the infrastructure to support the pelvic organs and to allow childbirth. Adequate “closure” is needed for pelvic organ support, yet sufficient “opening” is necessary to permit vaginal delivery. The female pelvis evolved as a compromise between these two important, but opposing functions. Unfortunately, the process of childbirth has the potential for damaging the “closure” mechanism of the pelvis, which can result in permanent childbirth injuries that are often suffered in silence.

Obscured in the magic of delivering a human being through the birth canal are the lasting physical effects that can occur from the birth process. The average birth weight of a newborn is 7.5 pounds, a considerable load to push (and pull) through the vaginal canal. It is a popular misconception that pelvic anatomy rapidly returns to its pre-pregnancy status. Some women do come through the process relatively unscathed with minimal physical changes, whereas others sustain significant pelvic trauma from the process. Potential long-term ramifications may include the following: urinary and fecal incontinence (leakage); vaginal laxity (looseness); pelvic organ prolapse (descent of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vaginal space and at times outside the vaginal opening); vaginal pain with sexual intercourse; and chronic back pain.

The risk factors for childbirth injuries are larger babies, prolonged labor, narrow vaginal anatomy and the need for tools to help deliver the baby, e.g., forceps. Vaginal injuries may involve lacerations, pelvic bone fractures, pelvic floor muscle tears, etc. Although vaginal delivery is the ultimate traumatic event, pregnancy and labor are important factors as well. Accompanying pregnancy is maternal weight gain, a change in body posture, hormonal changes and the pressure of a growing uterus and fetal weight. Labor is an appropriate term for the tough work a mother has to do to push out a baby’s head. The more hours spent pushing and straining, the greater the potential trauma to pelvic anatomy. During the process of vaginal delivery, the soft tissues of the pelvis get “crushed” in the “vise” between the baby’s bony skull and the mother’s bony pelvis. The pelvic muscles and connective tissues are frequently stretched, if not torn, from their attachments to the pubic bone and pelvic sidewalls, and the nerves to the pelvic floor are often equally affected. Although more than half of women who deliver vaginally sustain small tears, only 10% or so suffer a severe pelvic muscle tear or pelvic bone fracture.

The most extreme form of birth trauma is obstetric fistula, a not uncommon, horrific problem often occurring in poverty-stricken countries where pregnant women have poor access to obstetric care. It happens after enduring days of “obstructed” labor, with the baby’s head persistently pushing against the mother’s pelvic bones during contractions. This prevents pelvic blood flow and causes tissue death, resulting in a hole called a “fistula” between the vagina and the bladder and/or vagina and rectum. When birth finally occurs, the baby is often stillborn. The long-term consequences for the mother are severe urinary and bowel incontinence, shame and social isolation.

The human body has a remarkable ability to heal and repair itself, and given time, nature and patience, many women will recover their anatomy and function. However, a subset of women will have lasting effects from birth trauma, referred to by the term pelvic floor dysfunction.  This can result in urinary or bowel leakage with sneezing, coughing and exertion, pooching of one or more of the pelvic organs into the vaginal canal and at times beyond, a loose vagina that may adversely affect sexual relations and pelvic pain with sexual intercourse.

What to do to prepare?

  • Prenatal education: Knowledge is power–the more you know about the expectations of the pregnancy and childbirth process, the better prepared you will be.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and general fitness: A healthy lifestyle will go a long way in making the process of pregnancy, labor and delivery as easy as possible.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) starting prenatally: Realistically, this will not prevent pelvic floor issues in everyone, since obstetrical trauma can and will give rise to problems whether the pelvic muscles are fit or not! However, even if a pelvic exercise regimen does not prevent all forms of pelvic floor dysfunction, it will certainly have a positive impact, lessening the degree of the dysfunction and accelerating the healing process. Furthermore, mastering such exercises before pregnancy will make carrying the pregnancy easier and will facilitate labor and delivery and the effortless resumption of the exercises in the post-partum period, as the exercises were learned under ideal circumstances, prior to the injury. 

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 http://www.TheKegelFix.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pelvic Floor Issues In Women

August 13, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  8/13/16

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

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

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

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

The following quotes from patients illustrate the common pelvic issues:

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

–Brittany, age 29

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

–Allyson, age 38

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

–Jan, age 57

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

–Leah, age 43

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

–Karen, age 66

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

–Tara, age 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Viagra, Levitra, Cialis or Stendra: Which ED Med Is Right For You?

July 1, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD  7/1/2016

IMG_1457(1)

Cartoon by my patient/artist Ben Blank given to me shortly after  Viagra became available in 1998.  It says it all!

There are lots of options available if you are having erection problems. In my humble opinion, healthy lifestyle measures should always be considered first-line: weight management, healthy eating, exercise (including cardio, strength, core and pelvic floor), sufficient sleep, avoidance of tobacco, excessive alcohol and excessive stress, etc. With respect to ED medications, there are now many choices. Today’s entry will discuss which of the ED meds is best for you.

How the Penis Erects

In an erotic situation, nerves to the penis release nitric oxide that then causes the release of cGMP, resulting in blood flooding into the erectile chambers of the penis, the basis of an erection. As the erection gets fuller, penile veins become compressed, limiting the exit of blood and ultimately the pelvic floor/perineal muscles engage to cause maximal erectile rigidity.

How the Penis Becomes Flaccid

After ejaculation, the enzyme PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase) is released, the chemical mediator of flaccidity. It results in decreased levels of cGMP, resulting in a loss of the erection and a return to flaccid status.

ED Meds

The ED medications include Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and Stendra. They work by inhibiting PDE-5 and are known as PDE-5 inhibitors. Effective for many men with ED, they result in enhanced erectile function, sexual satisfaction and quality of life.

They are taken orally, require some time to get absorbed and necessitate sexual stimulation to work effectively. Although they can result in some increase in penile fullness (tumescence) without sexual stimulation, sexual stimulation is a must in order to induce a fully rigid erection.

Although effective for many men, they will not work for everyone.  If there is significant nerve or vascular compromise to the penis, they will likely be ineffective. It is important to know that the same ED drug at the same dose may work variably depending on the particular time and situation, sometimes more effectively than at other times since there are so many factors that determine erectile rigidity.

Men who are taking nitrates of any kind should never use the ED meds or serious consequences may result, including a dramatic drop in blood pressure (Remember Jack Nicholson in “Something’s Gotta Give”?). All of these ED drugs are metabolized in the liver for breakdown by the body.

Viagra (Sildenefil) This was the first of the group, released in 1998. Dosed at 25, 50 or 100 mg, the half-life (the amount of time it takes for the blood level of the drug to drop by 50%) is about 4 hours. It is taken on demand and kicks in in 15-60 minutes and remains active for 4 or more hours.

Viagra trivia:  Viagra was discovered by chance. Pfizer scientists conducted a clinical trial with an experimental medicine that causes blood vessels to dilate in an effort to treat high blood pressure and chest pain. The medication did not work particularly well for the intended purposes, but had a side effect in that it dramatically improved erections. When the study ended, the participants were profoundly disturbed that the drug was no longer available. The rest is history.

More Viagra trivia: The name Viagra was born as a fusion of the words “vigor” (physical strength) and “Niagara” (the most powerful waterfall in North America).

Even more Viagra trivia: Viagra is not only used for ED. A 20 mg dose is effective for children with pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which the blood vessels in the lungs have abnormally high blood pressures.

The most common side effects of Viagra are headache, facial flushing, upset stomach, and nasal stuffiness. Less frequent side effects are temporary changes in color vision, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision.

Levitra (Vardenefil) This drug came to market in 2003 and is very similar to Viagra, available in 10 mg and 20 mg doses. The effectiveness and side effect profile is similar to Viagra; however, there are no reports of visual distortions as side effects. It is taken on demand and has an onset of about 25 minutes and has a half-life of about 4 hours and remains active for 4 or more hours.

Levitra trivia: The name Levitra derives from “elevate”; in French “le” indicates masculinity and “vitra” suggests vitality.

More Levitra trivia: Levitra is also formulated in a minty, dissolves-in-your-mouth 10mg formulation called Staxyn.

Cialis (Tadalafil) This was FDA approved in 2003 and is available in 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg doses. The effectiveness and side effect profile is similar to Viagra. Uniquely, Cialis has a long duration of action that has earned it the nickname “the weekender” as it can be taken on Friday evening and remain effective for the remainder of the weekend without the need for an additional dose. This affords a considerable advantage in terms of spontaneity. Cialis is either taken on demand (usually 10 or 20 mg, although 5 mg can be effective as well) or on a daily basis (2.5 or 5 mg) and has an onset of 15-45 minutes and remains active for 36 or more hours.

Cialis trivia: Cialis is also approved to treat children with pulmonary hypertension.

In 2012, daily Cialis (2.5 and 5 mg) was FDA approved for the management of urinary symptoms due to benign prostate enlargement.

Cialis, on occasion, can cause backaches and other muscle aches. Cialis is not affected by eating fatty meals, which can slow the absorption of the alternative ED meds.

Stendra (Avanafril) This was FDA approved in 2012. Available in 50, 100 and 200 mg doses, it has the advantage of a rapid onset of action. It is taken on demand and has an onset of about 10 minutes and remains active for 6 or more hours. It seems to have lower rates of hypotension when nitrates are co-administered.

Stendra trivia:  The name Stendra probably is a derivative of the word “extends.”

My Take

I have been in urology practice since 1988 and have plenty of clinical experience managing ED with these meds. In my opinion, Viagra 100 mg is the most potent of the group, but will also incur the most side effects, particularly facial flushing and potentially a nasty headache. Levitra is very similar in most respects to Viagra. Cialis is overall the best of the bunch because of its long duration, the spontaneity factor, the ability to take it with a fatty meal and its dual utility of helping urination as well as sexual function. The downside to Cialis is the occasional muscle aches. Stendra’s rapid onset gives it a small advantage.

Many men are capable of functioning satisfactorily without any of these medications, but find that taking a “recreational dose” of Cialis 5 mg enhances erectile capability and takes 20 years or more off the functional age of the penis. It is particularly useful for those with performance anxiety.

$$$$$

These drugs have gradually increased in price to the point where they are ridiculously expensive, unaffordable for many. None of the ED meds are yet generic. They typically retail for $40 or more per pill.

Tip of the Day: Viagra 20 mg (for pulmonary hypertension in children) is now generic and significantly less expensive than the branded variety and can be used for ED (taking up to 5 pills) at significant savings.

Bottom Line: The arrival of this class of medication in 1998 revolutionized the management of erectile dysfunction. Each of the available ED medications in this class is effective in improving erectile dysfunction issues for most men. There are subtle differences among the four that provide potential advantages and disadvantages. Trial and error will determine what works best for your needs.

Wishing you the best of health and a wonderful Independence Day weekend,

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.