What is Mens Health or Male Pelvic Health Physiotherapy?
Pelvic Floor Therapy For Men
What is a Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when the muscles of the region are no longer functioning in an optimal state. In some cases, the muscles feel contracted or painful, and the dysfunction can lead to very real symptoms that are potentially life-altering. Indeed, the most intimate and private activities can become painful, impaired, or embarrassing.
In other cases, muscles may be weak causing various kinds of incontinence or even erectile dysfunction. Whether too tight or too weak, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause quality of life issues for those affected. Understanding what is happening, and knowing where to go for help, is a key component to the effective treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in men.
What Causes Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Men?
Sometimes, increased pressure on the pelvic floor can cause some level of pelvic floor dysfunction. For instance, prolonged sitting from extended computer work, or long bicycling rides, can affect the pelvic floor and cause tightness that impacts function.
Additionally, stress, inflammation, or bacteria can be factors in male pelvic floor dysfunction. Direct trauma or injury can cause these muscles to tighten, or retract, leading to significant issues with the pelvic floor.
On the other hand, pelvic floor weakness can develop due to heavy lifting, chronic coughing, or repetitive straining for bowel movements. Any activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure can potentially lead to a stretching or weakening of the sling in the pelvic floor.
What Are Some of the Common Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Men?
Different men can present with different symptoms when experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. Some men may notice difficulty with urination and find it challenging to start the urine stream or to get a feeling of complete emptiness in their bladder. Urine flow may be weak, or there may be a need to get up multiple times a night to void.
Some men experience groin pain around the scrotum, testicles, or rectum and may complain of discomfort in sitting. The sensation of “sitting on a golf ball” is one sign of pelvic floor dysfunction. In other cases, there is pain during or after intercourse, or even just with an erection.
When the pelvic floor muscles are overly tight, constipation can occur, or a person might feel like they can’t ever quite complete their bowel movement. In general, problems with urination, bowel movements and/or sexual activity are all common red flags for dysfunction of the pelvic floor and warrant professional evaluation.
What to Expect During a Pelvic Floor Evaluation for Men?
The pelvic floor evaluation begins with a thorough review of medical history and a question-and-answer session to collect background information. This will involve questions on your bowel and bladder function. Usually, your physiotherapist will complete a general physical screening of your entire body as oftentimes, muscle imbalance in other areas may contribute to pelvic floor symptomology.
Next, you will remove your clothing on the lower part of your body and the physiotherapist will examine the pelvic floor visually. The therapist will perform an external palpation of the pelvic floor including around the pubic bone and sitting bones, to assess pelvic floor activity and inspect for any sign of dysfunction.
Finally, the therapist will perform an internal exam, usually with one gloved, lubricated finger inserted into the rectum to check the functioning of the muscles in the peri-rectal area. The physiotherapist may ask you to cough or contract muscles in this area to assess function. Your therapist will be checking in with you every step of the way to assess that you are comfortable with the exam, and in agreement to the assessment.