Posts Tagged ‘stress urinary incontinence’

Leaking Havoc: Diagnosing And Treating Female Stress Urinary Incontinence

March 4, 2017

Andrew Siegel, MD  3/4/17

This is the completion of a blog entry uploaded last week entitled “Leaking Havoc: Female Stress Incontinence.”

How is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) diagnosed and evaluated?

Listening carefully to the patient is usually sufficient to make the diagnosis of SUI, the typical complaint being: “Doc, I leak urine when I sneeze, cough and exercise.”

After hearing the details of the patient’s problem, the next step is a pelvic examination. The issue with an exam with legs-up-in-stirrups is that this is NOT the position in which SUI typically occurs, since SUI is usually provoked by standing, exertion and physical activities. For this reason, the exam must be performed using straining or coughing forcefully enough to demonstrate the SUI.

The pelvic examination is done after the patient empties her bladder. The exam involves observation, passage of a small catheter (a narrow hollow tube) into the bladder, a speculum exam and a digital exam.

Inspection determines tissue health and the presence of urethral movement with straining. After menopause, typical changes include thinning of the vaginal skin, redness, irritation, etc. The ridges and folds within the vagina that are present in younger women (rugae) tend to disappear.

A small catheter is passed into the bladder to determine how much urine remains, to obtain a urine culture in the event that urinalysis suggests infection and to determine urethral angulation. With the catheter in place, the angle that the urethra makes with the horizontal is measured. The catheter is typically parallel with the horizontal at rest. The patient is asked to strain and the angulation is again measured, recording the change in urethral angulation that occurs between resting and straining. Urethral angulation with straining (hyper-mobility) is a sign of loss of urethral support, which often is seen with SUI. The vagina is carefully inspected for other manifestations of pelvic organ prolapse (dropped bladder, rectum, uterus) that can accompany the SUI.

urethra-rest

                                     Image above: female urethra (woman in stirrups)–note that urethra points straight ahead, like the barrel of a rifle

urethra-strain

                             Image above: female urethra (woman in stirrups)– because of urethral hyper-mobility the urethra leaks at the moment she is asked to strain or cough

Finally, a digital examination is performed to assess vaginal tone and pelvic muscle strength (rated on a scale from 0-5). A bimanual exam (combined internal and external exam in which the pelvic organs are felt between internal and external examining fingers) checks for the presence of pelvic masses.

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

How is SUI managed?

There are a variety of treatment options for SUI, ranging from non-invasive strategies to surgery. There are no effective medications for SUI. If there is not an adequate response to first-line, non-invasive, conservative measures, surgery becomes an appropriate consideration. However, it is always sensible to initially use a conservative approach that is cost-effective, natural, uses few resources and is free from side effects.

Kegel Exercises for SUI

Kegels have emerged from obscure to mainstream…In fact the 2017 Oscar “swag bag” included a pelvic floor device called “The Elvie,” reviewed in my book THE KEGEL FIX.

 

one-sheet-poster

Combating SUI demands contracting one’s pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) strongly, rapidly and ultimately, reflexively. The goal of Kegels, a.k.a. pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is to increase PFM strength, power, endurance and coordination to improve urethral support and closure.

Who Knew? PFMT has the potential to improve or cure SUI in those who suffer with the problem and prevent it in those who do not have it.

The cough reflex is an automatic contraction of the PFMs above and beyond their resting tone when one coughs. This squeezes the urethra shut to help prevent leakage. This is nature’s way of protection against incontinence with a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, a defense against cough-related SUI. An extension of this principle is to exercise the PFMs to amplify strength and power to allow earlier activation and more robust contraction.

PFMT increases PFM bulk and thickness, reducing the number of SUI episodes. Additionally, PFMT improves urethral support at rest and with straining, diminishing the urethral hyper-mobility that is characteristic of SUI. It also permits earlier activation of the PFMs when coughing, more rapid repeated PFM contractions and more durable PFM contractions between coughs.

Who Knew? PFMT can cure or considerably improve 60-70% of women who suffer with SUI. The benefits persist for many years, as long as the exercises are adhered to on an ongoing basis. PFMT is equally effective for pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women with SUI.

Who Knew? PFMT is most effective in women with mild or mild-moderate SUI. Chances are that if the SUI is moderate-severe, PFMT will be less effective. However, if not cured, the SUI can be improved, and that might be sufficient.

Once the PFMs are conditioned via PFMT, it is vital to apply the improved conditioning on a practical basis. The cough reflex can be replicated—voluntarily—when one is in situations other than actual coughing that induce SUI. In order to do so, one needs to be attentive to the triggers that provoke the SUI. By actively contracting the PFMs immediately prior to the trigger exposure, the SUI can be improved or prevented. For example, if changing position from sitting to standing results in SUI, consciously performing a brisk PFM contraction—an intense contraction for 2-5 seconds prior to and during transitioning from sitting to standing—should “clamp the urethra” and help control the problem. Such bracing of the PFMs can be a highly effective means of managing SUI and when practiced diligently can become automatic (a reflex behavior).

More Non-Invasive Strategies to Improve SUI

Manage the condition that provokes the SUI: Since discrete triggers often provoke SUI (e.g., when asthma causes wheezing, seasonal allergies cause sneezing, or when tobacco use, bronchitis, sinusitis, or post-nasal drip cause coughing), by managing the underlying condition, the SUI can be avoided.

Moderate fluid intake: With a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, there will tend to be more SUI when there are larger volumes in the bladder (although SUI can occur even immediately after urinating). Since there is a direct relationship between fluid intake and urine production, any moderation in fluid intake will decrease the volume of urine in the bladder and potentially improve the SUI. The key is to find the right balance to diminish the SUI, yet avoid dehydration. Since caffeinated beverages and alcohol increase urine volume, it is best to limit exposure (caffeine is present in coffee, tea, cola and even chocolate has a caffeine-like ingredient).

Urinate regularly: Based on the premise that there tends to be more SUI when there are greater volumes in the bladder, by emptying the bladder more frequently, SUI can be better controlled. Urinating on a two-hour basis is usually effective, although the specific timetable needs to be individually tailored. Voluntary urinary frequency is more desirable than involuntary SUI. An extension of this principle is to empty one’s bladder immediately before any activity that is likely to induce the SUI.

Maintain a healthy weight: Extra pounds can worsen SUI by increasing abdominal pressure and placing a greater load on the pelvic floor and bladder. Even a modest weight loss may improve SUI.

Who Knew? Bearing the burden of unnecessary pounds adversely affects many body parts. As much as obesity puts a great strain on the knees that support the body’s weight, so it does on the PFM.

Exercise: Being physically active can go a long way towards maintaining general fitness and helping improve SUI. In general, exercises that emphasize the core muscles—particularly Pilates and yoga—are most helpful for SUI. Unfortunately, and ironically, it is exercise that often provokes SUI.

Tobacco cessation: Tobacco causes bronchial irritation and coughing that provoke SUI. Additionally, chemical constituents of tobacco constrict blood vessels, impair blood flow, decrease tissue oxygenation and promote inflammation, negatively affecting function of the bladder, urethra and PFMs. By eliminating tobacco, SUI can be significantly improved.

Maintain bowel regularity: Achieving bowel regularity may improve SUI and prevent it from progressing. A rectum full of stool can adversely affect urinary control by putting internal pressure on the bladder and urethra. Additionally, chronic straining with bowel movements—similar in many ways to being in “labor” every day—can have a cumulative effect in weakening PFMs and can be a key factor in the development of SUI. To promote healthy bowel function, exercise daily and increase fiber intake by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The tampon trick: If SUI occurs under very predictable circumstances—e.g., during tennis, golf or jogging—a strategically placed tampon can be a friend. The tampon is not used for absorption purposes, but to support the urethra. By positioning the tampon in the vagina directly under the urethra, it acts as a space-occupying backboard. The tampon does not need to be positioned as deeply as it would be for menstruation, but just within the vagina. This may allow one to pursue activities without the need for a pad. Poise has come out with “Impressa,” a tampon available in three sizes designed specifically for SUI. It is placed via an applicator and can be worn for up to eight hours. In Australia and the UK, “Contiform,” a self-inserted, foldable intra-vaginal device that is shaped like a hollow tampon, is often used to help manage SUI.

Surgical Management of SUI: Mid-urethral sling

sling

Image above is of a mid-urethral sling in place under the urethra to provide the support necessary to cure/substantially improve the stress urinary incontinence

If conservative measures fail to sufficiently improve SUI, there are solutions. A relatively simple outpatient procedure—the mid-urethral sling—is the implantation of a synthetic tape between the urethra and vagina to recreate the “backboard” of urethral support that is defective. This creates a “hammock” to provide support and to allow compression and pinching of the urethra with any activity that increases abdominal pressure.

The sling procedure is performed via a small vaginal incision. The permanent material used for the sling is polypropylene tape, the same material as used by general surgeons to repair groin hernias. Mid-urethral refers to the placement of the sling beneath the mid-urethra, the channel that leads from the bladder to the urinary opening. Sling refers to the configuration created when the tape is firmly anchored to the soft tissues of the pelvis after being placed underneath the urethra. The sling procedure has a 85-90% cure rate for SUI.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from this book.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

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

Leaking Havoc: Female Stress Urinary Incontinence

February 25, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  2/25/17

*Credit for title “Leaking Havoc” goes to freelance writer Karen Gibbs who recently interviewed me for an article on this topic for New Jersey Family Magazine.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a very common condition that affects one in three women during their lifetimes, most often young or middle-aged, although it can happen at any age. An involuntary spurt of urine occurs during sudden increases in abdominal pressure, which can happen with coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or exercise. It can even happen with walking, changing position from sitting to standing, or during sex.

7. SUI

Illustration above of stress urinary incontinence, by Ashley Halsey from Dr. Siegel’s book : “The Kegel Fix”

In Europe, SUI is referred to as “exertion” incontinence, since some form of physical effort usually triggers it. This is less confusing than the American term “stress” incontinence since the word stress is most typically used in the context of emotional stress–but here I am referring to only the physical stress of a sneeze, jump, etc.

Who Knew? The triggers that most consistently provoke SUI are jumping up with a sudden stop as one’s feet touch down—jumping jacks, trampoline and jump rope.

 Who Knew? There are hereditary/racial differences in the prevalence of SUI with SUI being less common in women of African-American descent and more common in Caucasian women, thought to be on the basis of genetic differences in pelvic muscle bulk.

SUI most often occurs because the support to the urethra (the urinary channel that goes from the bladder out)—the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues—has weakened and no longer provides an adequate “backboard” to the urethra. This allows the urethra to be pushed down and out of position at times of sudden increases in abdominal pressure, a condition known as urethral hyper-mobility.

The key inciting factors for SUI are pregnancy, labor and delivery, particularly traumatic vaginal deliveries of large babies. SUI is uncommon in women who have not delivered vaginally or in women who have delivered by elective Caesarian section (a C-section without experiencing labor). However, emergency C-section done for failure of labor to progress has a similar risk for SUI as vaginal delivery.

Many women experience SUI during pregnancy. By their third month of pregnancy, 20% of women report SUI, as do 50% at full term. There are many reasons for its occurrence, including the pressure of the enlarging uterus on the bladder and stretching of the pelvic floor muscles and other connective tissues.

Who Knew? After giving birth to your newborn, in addition to buying diapers for your baby you may have to buy them for yourself!

Who Knew? The more vaginal deliveries one has, the greater the likelihood of developing SUI.

Who Knew? Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels) in facilitating an early return of urinary control and improving the severity of SUI.

Some women experience persistent SUI after childbirth, while others find that it improves dramatically and resolves within 6 months. Others will not experience SUI until many years after childbirth, after promoting factors have kicked in. These factors include obesity, aging, menopause, weight gain, gynecological surgery (especially hysterectomy), and any condition that increases abdominal pressure. These include coughing (often from smoking), asthma, weight training and high impact sports (e.g., trampoline, gymnastics, pole vaulting, etc.) and occupations that require heavy physical labor. Chronic constipation is a major contributory factor because of pushing and straining on a daily basis, cumulatively causing the same weakening of urethral support as happens with obstetrical labor.

Who Knew? SUI is common in recreational as well as elite female athletes, particularly those who participate in high impact sports involving jumping. It can lead to poor athletic performance and ultimately avoiding sports participation.

The specific activities that provoke SUI and the severity of the leakage can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some only experience SUI with extreme exertion, such as when serving a tennis ball, swinging a golf club or with a powerful sneeze. Others experience SUI with minimal exertion such as walking or turning over in bed. Some women do not wear any protective pads or liners, changing their panties as necessary, whereas others wear many pads per day. Some are significantly bothered by even a minor degree of SUI, while others are accepting of experiencing many episodes of SUI daily.

Although the predominant cause of SUI is inadequate urethral support, it may also be caused by a weakened or damaged urethra itself. Risk factors for this are menopause, pelvic surgery, injury to the urethral nerve supply, radiation, and pelvic trauma. Such a severely compromised urethra usually causes significant urinary leakage with minimal activities and also results in “gravitational” incontinence, a profound urinary leakage that accompanies positional change.

Genuine SUI needs to be distinguished from other conditions that cause leakage of urine with increases in abdominal pressure that are not on the basis of inadequate urethral support or a weakened urethra. These other conditions can masquerade as genuine SUI. It is critical to distinguish between them since the treatments are very different. This is one reason why a thorough evaluation of SUI is important. The conditions that can masquerade as genuine SUI include: failure to empty the bladder; urethral diverticulum; vaginal voiding; and stress-induced involuntary bladder contraction.

Failure to empty the bladder can occur for a variety of reasons, including blockage of outflow of urine and an underactive bladder that contracts poorly. When the bladder is constantly full, it is easy to understand why a sudden increase in abdominal pressure can provoke leakage.

Who Knew? An extension of this is that if your bladder is full and you leak a small amount with jumping or laughing, it is not necessarily problematic, but just means that you need to urinate before engaging in such activities.

Urethral diverticulum is a small sac-like out-pouching from the urethra that can fill up with urine and leak during physical activities. The treatment is often surgical repair.

Vaginal voiding occurs in a small percentage of women who have an anatomical variation in which their urethral openings are internally recessed as opposed to the normal external urethral opening on the vestibule, immediately above the vaginal opening. When urinating, some of the urine pools in the vagina. Upon standing and physical exertion, the urine can then leak out of the vagina.

Stress-induced involuntary bladder contraction is a condition in which an involuntary contraction of the bladder (the bladder squeezing without its owner’s permission) is triggered by a maneuver that typically causes SUI. For example, a cough induces an involuntary bladder contraction, causing urinary leakage.

…To be continued next week when I will review how to diagnose and treat SUI.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health http://www.TheKegelFix.com.  Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from this book, written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

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

Female Bladder Works

February 11, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   2/11/17

This entry is a brief overview of bladder anatomy and function to help you better understand the two most common forms of urinary leakage—stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder— topics for entries that will follow for the next few weeks.  Having a working knowledge of the properties of the bladder will serve you well in being able to understand when things go awry. 

                          6. bladder

                             Drawing of the bladder and urethra by Ashley Halsey from “The Kegel Fix:                           Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health”

The bladder is a muscular balloon that has two functions—storage and emptying of urine. The stem of the bladder balloon is the urethra, the tube that conducts urine from the bladder during urination and helps store urine at all other times. The urethra runs from the bladder neck (where the urinary bladder and urethra join) to the urethral meatus, the external opening located just above the vagina.

Bladder Control Issues—More Than Just a Physical Problem

Urinary incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine. Although not life threatening, it can be life altering and life disrupting. Many resort to absorbent pads to help deal with this debilitating, yet manageable problem. It is more than just a medical problem, often affecting emotional, psychological, social and financial wellbeing (the cumulative cost of pads can be significant). Many are reluctant to participate in activities that provoke the incontinence, resulting in social isolation, loss of self-esteem and, at times, depression. Since exercise is a common trigger, many avoid it, which can lead to weight gain and a decline in fitness. Sufferers often feel “imprisoned” by their bladders, which have taken control over their lives, impacting not only activities, but also clothing choices, travel plans and relationships.

Bladder Function 101

Healthy bladder functioning depends upon properties of the bladder and urethra. Bladder control issues arise when one or more of these go awry:

Capacity

The average adult has a bladder that holds about 12 ounces before a significant urge to urinate occurs. Problem: The most common capacity issue is when the capacity is too small, causing urinary frequency.

Elasticity

The bladder is stretchy like a balloon and as it fills up there is a minimal increase in bladder pressure because of this expansion. Low-pressure storage is desirable, as the less pressure in the bladder, the less likelihood for leakage issues. Problem: The bladder is inelastic or less elastic and stores urine at high pressures, a setup for urinary leakage.

Sensation

There is an increasing feeling of urgency as the urine volume in the bladder increases. Problem: The most common sensation issue is heightened sensation creating a sense of urgency before the bladder is full, giving rise to the frequent need to urinate. Less commonly there exists a situation in which there is little to no sensation even when the bladder is quite full (and little warning that the bladder is full), sometimes causing the bladder to overflow.

Contractility

After the bladder fills and the desire to urinate is sensed, a voluntary bladder contraction occurs, which increases the pressure within the bladder in order to generate the power to urinate. Problem: The bladder is “under-active” and cannot generate enough pressure to empty effectively, which may cause it to overflow when large volumes of urine remain in the bladder.

Timing

A bladder contraction should only occur after the bladder is reasonably full and the “owner” of the bladder makes a conscious decision to empty the bladder. Problem: The bladder is “overactive” and squeezes prematurely (involuntary bladder contraction) causing sudden urgency with the possibility of urinary leakage occurring en route to the bathroom.

Anatomical Position

The bladder and urethra are maintained in proper anatomical position in the pelvis because of the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue support. Problem: A weakened support system can cause urinary leakage with sudden increases in abdominal pressure, such as occurs with sneezing, coughing and/or exercising.

Urethra

In cross-section, the urethra has infoldings of its inner layer that give it a “snowflake” appearance. This inner layer is surrounded by rich spongy tissue containing an abundance of blood vessels, creating a cushion around the urethra that permits a watertight seal similar to a washer in a sink. The female hormone estrogen nourishes the urethra and helps maintain the seal. Problem: With declining levels of estrogen at the time of menopause, the urethra loses tone and suppleness, analogous to a washer in a sink becoming brittle, potentially causing leakage issues.

Sphincters

The urinary sphincters, located at the bladder neck and mid-urethra, are specialized muscles that provide urinary control by pinching the urethra closed during storage and allowing the urethra to open during emptying. The main sphincter (a.k.a. the internal sphincter) is located at the bladder neck and is composed of smooth muscle designed for involuntary, sustained control. The auxiliary sphincter (a.k.a. the external sphincter), located further downstream and comprised of skeletal muscle contributed to by the pelvic floor muscles, is designed for voluntary, emergency control. Problem: Damage to or weakness of the sphincters adversely affects urinary control.

The main sphincter is similar to the brakes of a car—frequently used, efficient and effective. The auxiliary sphincter is similar to the emergency brake—much less frequently used, less efficient, but effective in a pinch. The pelvic floor muscles are intimately involved with the function of the “emergency brake.”

Nerves

The seemingly “simple” act of urination is actually a highly complex event requiring a functional nervous system providing sensation of filling, contraction of the bladder muscle and the coordinated relaxation of the sphincters. Problem: Any neurological problem can adversely affect urination, causing bladder control issues.

Bladder Reflexes

A reflex is an automatic response to a stimulus, an action that occurs without conscious thought. There are three reflexes that are vital to bladder control:

Guarding Reflex: During bladder filling, the “guarding” (against leakage) pelvic floor muscles contract in increasing magnitude in proportion to the volume of urine in the bladder; this provides resistance that helps prevent leakage as the bladder becomes fuller.

Cough Reflex: With a cough, there is a reflex contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, which helps prevent leakage with sudden increases in abdominal pressure.

Pelvic Floor Muscle-Bladder Reflex: When the pelvic floor muscles are voluntarily contracted, there is a reflex relaxation of the bladder. This powerful reflex can be tapped into for those who have involuntary bladder contractions that cause urgency and urgency leakage.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

He is also the author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

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)

3-superficial-and-deep-pfm

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.

More About Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

October 22, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/22/2016

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

How Much Of A Vaginal Bulge Can POP Cause?

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

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

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

Which Organs Does POP Affect?

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

Urethra

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

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

sui

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

Bladder

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

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

untitled

Cystocele

Rectum

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

rectocele

Rectocele with perineal laxity

Perineum

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

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

Small Intestine

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

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

enterocele

Enterocele

Uterus

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

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

 

uterus

Uterine prolapse

ulcerated-procidentia

Severe uterine prolapse (procidentia) with ulcerative inflammation surrounding cervix

Vagina

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

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

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

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

 

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

September 24, 2016

Andrew Siegel  MD  9/24/2016

Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

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

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

 

 

 

 

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. 

Urethral Bulking Agents: Alternative To Stress Incontinence Surgery

August 6, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD    8/6/2016

macroplastique

Illustration of bulking agent being injected into urethral tissues to plump up and compress the urethra

Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)

SUI is a common condition that affects one in three women during their lifetimes, most often young or middle-aged women, although it can happen at any age. An involuntary spurt of urine occurs at times of sudden increases in abdominal pressure.  This can happen with coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or exercise. It can even happen with walking, changing position from sitting to standing or during sex.

SUI most often occurs because the tissues that support the urethra (the channel that conducts urine from the bladder) have weakened and no longer provide an adequate “backboard.” This allows the urethra to be pushed down and out of position at times of sudden increases in abdominal pressure, a condition known as urethral hyper-mobility. The key inciting factors are pregnancy, labor and delivery, particularly traumatic vaginal deliveries of large babies.

Although the predominant cause of SUI is inadequate urethral support, it may also be caused by a weakened or damaged urethra itself, a condition known as sphincter dysfunction. Risk factors for this are menopause, prior pelvic surgery, nerve damage, radiation and pelvic trauma. A severely compromised urethral sphincter causes significant urinary leakage with minimal activities and typically results in “gravitational” incontinence, a profound urinary leakage that accompanies positional change. In this situation the sphincter does not provide sufficient closure to pinch the urethra closed.

Useful analogy: Sphincter dysfunction is similar to a situation in which a sink faucet is leaky because of a brittle washer that has lost the suppleness to provide closure.

First-line Treatment For SUI: Pelvic Floor Muscle (PFM) Training (Kegels)

It is important to know that you can tap into the powers of your PFM and harness the natural reflex that inhibits stress urinary incontinence. Combatting SUI demands that the PFM contract strongly, rapidly and ultimately, reflexively. The goal of Kegels is to increase PFM strength, power, endurance and coordination to improve the urethral support and closure mechanism. This has the potential to improve or cure SUI in those who suffer with the problem and prevent it in those who do not have it.

Kegel exercises are most effective in women with mild or mild-moderate SUI. Kegels increase PFM bulk and thickness, including the sphincter mechanism, reducing the number of SUI episodes. Additionally, Kegels improve urethral support at rest and with straining, diminishing the urethral hyper-mobility that is characteristic of SUI. It also permits earlier activation of the PFM when coughing, more rapid repeated PFM contractions and more durable PFM contractions between coughs. PFM training can cure or considerably improve 60-70% of women who suffer with SUI. The benefits persist for many years, as long as the exercises are adhered to on an ongoing basis.

Urethral Bulking Agents

The “gold standard” treatment of SUI that does not respond to conservative measures is a mid-urethral sling, a surgical procedure that provides support and a “backboard” to the urethra.  Cure or significant improvement is in the 85-90% range with sling surgery.  An alternative to the sling surgery is the injection of a urethral bulking agent.

Urethral bulking agents are typically used for SUI due to weakened or poorly functional sphincter muscles.  A special material—a bulking agent—is injected into the tissues around the urethra in an effort to “plump” up the urethra to help provide closure to it, with the goal of improving urinary control. The material works by bulking up the layer of the urethra immediately under the inner urethral lining, providing closure of the urethra via compression. This outpatient procedure is simple to perform and generally takes only a few minutes. In theory, it is similar to the lip injections that are used by plastic surgeon in order to plump up the lips and make them appear fuller, suppler and more sensuous.

The urethral bulking agent procedure is done under direct visual control using a small, lighted scope (cystoscope) that is inserted into the urethra. The bulking material is injected into the tissue immediately under the urethral lining while the plumping and closure of the urethra is observed. Several treatments may be necessary for lasting results.

There are three materials that are FDA-approved bulking agents: carbon-coated beads suspended in a water gel (Durasphere); calcium hydroxylapatite (Coaptite); and silicone microparticles (Macroplastique).

For whom are bulking agents appropriate?

  • Women with SUI primarily due to sphincter dysfunction
  • Women who are too elderly or frail or have too many medical issues to undergo anesthesia and standard mid-urethral sling surgery
  • Women who have had unsuccessful or incompletely successful sling surgery
  • Women who wish to avoid surgery for SUI
  • Women who have SUI and wish to have more children
  • Women with mild SUI
  • Women with SUI who are anti-coagulated with “blood thinners” and whose anti-coagulation status cannot safely be reversed

How effective are bulking agents?

Generally, bulking agents result in a 75% improved or cure rate, including about 30% who are cured and 25% who fail to improve.  It is important to understand that the effectiveness of urethral bulking agents is inferior to that of sling surgery, the duration is limited and multiple repeat injections may be required. Improvement rather than cure is the goal.

Can urethral bulking agents be used for men as well as women?

Yes, they have been used in men with SUI after prostatectomy, but the results are less favorable than the results in women.

Bottom Line: Injection of urethral bulking agents is a reasonable alternative to mid-urethral sling surgery in certain populations of women who either are not medically fit for sling surgery, have failed sling surgery, or wish to defer or avoid sling surgery.

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. 

Who Is Arnold Kegel And What’s All That Fuss Over The Pelvic Floor?

June 25, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 6/25/16

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

*Note: Much of this entry is excerpted from The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health (Author: Andrew Siegel, Rogue Wave Press, 2016)

Dr. Arnold Kegel (1894-1981) was a gynecologist who taught at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. In the late 1940s he was singularly responsible for popularizing pelvic floor muscle exercises in an effort to improve pelvic, sexual and urinary health in women following childbirth.  

It is a real measure of one’s significant impact on humanity to have a verb and noun derived from your name. I can think of only two physicians who fall into this category, Dr. Arnold Kegel and Dr. Henry Heimlich.

Kegel exercises: pelvic floor muscle exercises

Kegel: when one contracts the pelvic floor muscles

Heimlich maneuver: a means of dislodging a foreign object lodged in the upper airway using your fist to apply pressure to the upper abdomen

Heimlich: when one performs the Heimlich maneuver

 

Dr. Arnold Kegel capitalized on the principle of functional restoration of an isolated group of muscles—already well established in orthopedics, plastic surgery and physical medicine and rehabilitation—applying it to the pelvic floor muscles. His legacy is the pelvic floor exercises that bear his name, known as “Kegel exercises.” He invented a device called the perineometer that was placed in the vagina to create resistance and to measure the strength of pelvic floor muscle contractions, providing biofeedback.

FullSizeRender 2

(Image above: Dr. Kegel’s perineometer, from Progressive Resistance Exercise in the Functional Restorati0n of the Perineal Muscles, Am J. Obst. Gyn., August 1948 56 (2) 238-248)

Kegel described pelvic exercises as an effort to “draw in” the perineum, the anatomical region between the vagina and anus. His goal was for “broader, thicker and firmer” pelvic muscles and a tighter muscular plane through which the urethra, vagina and rectum pass.

Kegel did not invent pelvic floor exercises, but was responsible for popularizing them in women. Pelvic floor exercises had actually been around for thousands of years before his era. Kegel came onto the scene in the 1940s and made the link between childbirth and pelvic floor issues resulting in loss of vaginal tone, pelvic organ prolapse, impaired sexual function and stress urinary incontinence.

Kegel observed that in women before childbirth the vaginal canal was typically tight, firm and closed to a high level, offering resistance to the examining finger in every direction. Oftentimes after delivery the vaginal canal became looser and flabbier, offering little resistance to the examining finger. Kegel questioned his patients about their sexual function after childbirth, concluding that sex felt different after delivery and that sexuality was closely related to vaginal muscle tone and was capable of being improved with proper exercises. Additionally, Kegel observed that about one in three new mothers suffered with stress urinary incontinence.

Factoid: In one of Kegel’s classic articles, he referred to a tribe of natives in Africa whose pelvic anatomy was observed to be unusually firm and intact. This was thought to be due to exercises of the vaginal muscles contracted upon the distended fingers of midwives starting several days after birth.

According to Kegel, the reasons for pursuing pelvic exercises were the following: vaginal looseness; weakened, poorly toned or poorly functional pelvic muscles; pelvic organ bulging and prolapse; stress urinary incontinence; impaired sexual function; and “pelvic fatigue.” He discovered that with his regimen a vagina initially admitting three fingers could be tightened to a snug, well-closed vagina admitting only one finger, with the results sustained over time.

Factoid: One of Kegel’s aims was to improve vaginal muscle tone so that a contraceptive diaphragm could be held in place without falling out.

Kegel wrote: “Muscles that have lost tone, texture and function can be restored to use by active exercise against progressive resistance since muscles increase in strength in direct proportion to the demands placed upon them.” He believed that a minimum of twenty hours of exercise were necessary to obtain maximal development of the pelvic muscles.

Dr. Kegel wrote a number of classic articles including: The Non-Surgical Treatment of Genital Relaxation; Progressive Resistance Exercise in the Functional Restoration of the Perineal Muscles; Sexual Functions of the Pubococcygeus Muscle; and The Physiologic Treatment of Poor Tone and Function of the Genital Muscles and of Urinary Stress Incontinence. Their content is summarized in the paragraphs that follow.

Since pregnancy, labor and delivery invariably inflict damage to pelvic anatomy—often resulting in flabby, weakened and poorly functional pelvic muscles—Kegel designed a pelvic training program that he used successfully on thousands of his patients. His objectives were a tighter, toned and firmer vaginal canal with improved urinary control, pelvic support and sexuality. He observed that the tricky thing about pelvic floor muscle injuries as opposed to injuries of external muscles is that the pelvic floor muscles are internal, hidden muscles that cannot be directly observed and thus their injuries are masked.

His program of pelvic rehabilitation incorporated four important principles. The first was that of muscle education—an understanding of pelvic anatomy and function. This enabled muscle memory—the development of the nerve pathway from the brain to the pelvic floor. The second principle was feedback to confirm to the exerciser that the proper muscles were being used, important since studies have shown that up to 50% of women who think they are doing pelvic exercises properly are actually squeezing other muscles, typically the rectus (abs), gluteal (butt) and adductor (thigh) muscles. Feedback served as a means of demonstrating that initial weak and irregular contractions became strong and sustained and a way of measuring and monitoring progress over time as pelvic strength increased. The feedback also provided motivation; by demonstrating improvement over time, the exerciser was incentivized and inspired to keep at the program. The third principle was resistance, which further challenged the pelvic muscles to work harder to increase their tone, texture and bulk. Resistance was capable of rapidly escalating pelvic strength and endurance since growth of muscles occurs in direct proportion to the demands placed upon them, a basic principle of muscle physiology. The final principle was progressive intensity, an escalation of exercise magnitude and degree of difficulty over time, key to increasing pelvic strength and endurance.

Bottom Line: Dr. Arnold Kegel was a champion of pelvic floor exercises, popularizing them in postpartum females. He established that pelvic health can be restored through education and focused pelvic floor muscle training using resistance and biofeedback. Restoration of pelvic health via exercise is simply a case of tapping into your body’s remarkable ability to adapt to the stresses and resistances placed upon it.

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. 

What You Don’t Know About Your Pelvic Floor Muscles, But Should

June 18, 2016

Andrew Siegel, M.D. 6/18/16

* Please note that although this entry is written for women, it is equally applicable to men.

In dogs, the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) play an important role with respect to tail position and movement. They are responsible for tail wagging in circumstances when dogs are happy and for the tail being held down between the legs when dogs are frightened or anxious. Weak PFM are virtually unheard of in the canine population, suggesting that with constant tail movement, the PFM are exercised sufficiently to maintain tone and vitality.

 

foot in water bowl

Photo above is Charley, my English Springer Spaniel.  Note her happy, erect tail and her curious habit of eating with her foot in her water bowl.

For better or worse, humans do not have tails to wag or place between our legs.  Tails became extinct with the evolutionary process (with the exception of the character played by Jason Alexander in the movie “Shallow Hal”). If we did have tails, our PFM would likely get a great deal more exercise than they typically do.

Sadly, the PFM don’t get the respect that the glitzy, for-show, mirror-appealing, external glamour muscles do. However, the PFM are hidden gems that work diligently behind the scenes–muscles of major function and not so much form-offering numerous powers and benefits, particularly so when intensified by training. Although not muscles of glamour, they are muscles of “amour,” and have a profoundly important role in sexual, urinary, and bowel function as well as in supporting our pelvic organs.

What are the PFM?

The PFM—commonly known as the “Kegel muscles”—are a muscular hammock that form the bottom of the pelvis. They are also referred to as the “saddle” muscles because you sit on them when seated on a bicycle. They are part of the “core” group of muscles.

What are the “core” muscles?

The core muscles are the “barrel” of muscles comprising the torso, consisting of the abdominal muscles in front, the lumbar muscles in back, the diaphragm muscle on top and the PFM on the bottom. The core muscles are responsible for stabilizing the pelvis and holding the spine erect.

1.core muscles

                              Illustration of core muscles by Ashley Halsey from                                            The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health

Where are the PFM?

The deep PFM (pubococcygeus, iliococcygeus, coccygeus) span from the pubic bone in front to the tailbone in the back, and from pelvic sidewall to pelvic sidewall, between the “sit” bones.

2.deep PFM              Illustration of deep PFM muscles by Ashley Halsey

The superficial PFM (ischiocavernosus, bulbocavernosus, transverse perineal, anal sphincter) are situated under the surface of the external genitals and anus.

3. superficial and deep PFM

            Illustration of superficial and deep PFM muscles by Ashley Halsey

 

What is the function of the PFM?                                                                      

The PFM muscles intertwine with the muscles of the vagina, bladder and rectum,  provide support for the pelvic organs, play a vital role in sexual function and contribute to the control mechanism of the urinary and intestinal tracts.

What is PFM dysfunction?

PFM “dysfunction” is a common condition referring to when the PFM are not functioning properly. PFM dysfunction ranges from “low tone” to “high tone.” Low tone occurs when the PFM 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 pelvic organs fall into the space of the vagina and at times outside the vagina) and altered sexual function (decreased sensation, difficulty accommodating a penis because of looseness, difficulty achieving climax, etc.). High tone occurs when the PFM are too tense and unable to relax, giving rise to a pain syndrome known as pelvic floor tension myalgia (this situation is entirely analogous to the high-strung dog with its tail between its legs).

Trivia: PFM dysfunction often causes symptoms in several domains, e.g., women with urinary control issues often have trouble achieving orgasm, both problems contributed to by weak PFM.

What causes PFM dysfunction?

The PFM can become weakened, flabby and poorly functional with pregnancy, labor, childbirth, 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 bulk and contractility of the PFM, often resulting in PFM dysfunction.

Why are the PFM so vital to your health?

The PFM are perhaps the most versatile yet under-appreciated muscle group in your body. They provide vaginal tone, support to the pelvic organs, a healthy sexual response–enhancing arousal and orgasm–and urinary and bowel sphincter control. They play a key role in your ability to carry and deliver a baby as well as contributing to the mobility and stability of your torso.

A simplified way of thinking of the female pelvic organs–bladder, uterus and bowel–is as “storage containers” for urine, fetuses, and stool, respectively. Each organ is connected to the outside world by tubular structures, the urethra, vagina and anal canal, respectively, through which flow the contents of the organs. The PFM play a strong role in compressing the tubes for storage and relaxing them for emptying.

What Is the muscle function of the PFM?

Whereas most skeletal muscles function as movers (joint movement and locomotion), the PFM are unique in that they function as stabilizers—helping to keep the pelvic organs in proper position—and compressors—helping to tighten the vagina, urethra and rectum—important to urinary and bowel control as well as to sexual function. During sex the PFM activate, causing a surge of genital blood flow that helps lubrication and clitoral engorgement; at the time of orgasm, the PFM contract rhythmically.

Why bother exercising your PFM?                                                        

The PFM are out of sight and out of mind; however, they have vital functions, so are muscles that you should be exercising. PFM training is based upon solid exercise science and can help maintain PFM integrity and optimal function into old age. The PFM are capable of making adaptive changes when targeted exercise is applied to them. Pelvic training involves gaining facility with both the contracting and the relaxing phases of PFM function. Their structure and function can be enhanced, resulting in broader, thicker and firmer PFM with a stronger resting tone and the ability to generate a powerful contraction at will. PFM training can be effective in stabilizing, relieving, improving and even preventing issues with pelvic support, sexual function, and urinary and bowel control. In addition to the muscle-training benefit of PFM training, it also supports tissue healing by stimulating the flow of oxygenated, nutritionally-rich blood to the vagina and other pelvic organs.

Because of pregnancy, labor and delivery, the PFM get stretched more than any other muscle group in the body. Through pelvic training, the PFM have the capacity of rebounding from this obstetrical “trauma,” recovering tone and function. Prenatal pelvic training can help fortify the PFM in preparation for pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Bottom Line: The PFM may literally be at the bottom of the barrel of our core muscles, but in terms of their important functions, they are figuratively furthermost from the “bottom of the barrel.” Without functioning PFM, your organs would dangle out of your pelvis, you would be wearing adult diapers and your sexual function would be non-existent. It behooves you to keep these vital muscles in tip-top shape. 

Please check out the following 3 minute video entitled “Why Kegel?”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kclY1vY3wG8

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

The Kegel Fix trailer: 

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.