When people think of pelvic floor health, they typically think of women and the infamous Kegel exercises. But pelvic floor health is an important issue for men, too — and it actually involves something called an “anti-Kegel.”
“When it comes down to it, men and women have the same kind of pelvic floor muscles,” says Molly Robbins, PT, DPT, a physical therapist with St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Pelvic Health Physical Therapy program. “While women’s pelvic floor issues are often about weak muscles, men’s issues are usually caused by muscles that are too tight.”
Fortunately, the first line of treatment for men’s pelvic floor conditions is often physical therapy, not an invasive or complicated surgery.
What causes men’s pelvic floor problems?
Men’s pelvic health issues usually stem from muscle tightness. When a man’s pelvic floor muscles are too tight, they can’t function correctly.
This muscle tightness can occur along with prostatitis. Some men may experience pelvic floor problems after prostate surgery. A fall or injury to the tailbone can also cause a tightening of the pelvic floor muscles.
Robbins notes that in some cases, an exact cause may not be able to be identified.
What are the symptoms of pelvic floor problems in men?
Men who are having pelvic floor issues can experience urinary symptoms, bowel problems, or pain. Symptoms can include:
- Incomplete bladder emptying
- Lower back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain with urination
- Pelvic pain
- Urinary leakage
- Urinary retention
How does St. Elizabeth Healthcare treat men’s pelvic floor conditions?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a key part of treatment. The goal is to train the pelvic floor muscles, which stretch from the public bone to the tailbone.
“There is so much more to pelvic floor therapy than Kegels,” Robbins says. “Especially with men, they may not have learned about these muscles before. We go over how to use them and coordinate them, especially when sitting, standing, or lifting.”
Physical therapists will teach you how to control your pelvic floor muscles using different stretches and exercises. Your therapist will work with you to create a custom set of exercises that are tailored to your unique needs.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare also offers pelvic floor biofeedback. During this procedure, your therapist will place external sensors near your rectum to measure how your pelvic floor muscles contract. The test helps your physical therapy team track your progress. With this information, the team can adjust and customize your physical therapy approach to make sure it’s as effective as possible.
What can I expect if I come in for pelvic health physical therapy?
At your first appointment, you’ll meet with your pelvic health physical therapist and talk through your symptoms and health history. The therapist will also conduct an exam to test your pelvic floor muscles for tightness, weakness, or coordination issues.
Your therapist may have you undergo biofeedback testing during your first appointment to help provide more detailed information about your pelvic floor muscles.
Once your therapist finishes the initial exam and consultation, they will create an exercise plan that’s customized to your needs. You’ll follow up with weekly therapy appointments as needed.
“Pelvic health physical therapy can be life-changing,” Robbins says. “It’s important to talk to your doctor if you have any symptoms because therapy can help a range of issues that affect your physical and emotional well-being.”
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a pelvic floor problem, talk to your doctor about pelvic floor therapy and how it may help. You can also learn more about men’s pelvic floor conditions and treatment at stelizabeth.com/pelvicfloor.
To make an appointment or to ask about our therapy, please call (859) 212-5400.