By Jen Vardy
Dear Sir, This is a letter to you.
Who loves to stride up a thousand steps? Lift in the gym or get stuck into manual labour at home? Who pauses to think about protecting their lower back or if their legs are up to the task? And who stops to think about their pelvic floor? Whoa!! Yes, this article is going to shine a little light on the nether regions (metaphorically speaking).
Research into men’s pelvic health is unfortunately about 20 years behind that for women. And while a female pelvis garners much attention in the research what do we know about the male? Pelvic floor muscles are vital to maintain support and control of our bladder and bowel and play a HUGE role in sexual function too.
We know that prostatic enlargement can cause bladder dysfunctions such as frequency, urgency, slow or interrupted urine flow and even bladder obstruction. Surgery for prostate cancer almost inevitably results in urinary incontinence and many men struggle to get out of bed without leaking let alone see themselves mowing the lawn or playing a round of golf.
To make things more devastating neural trauma after prostate surgery leads to Erectile Dysfunction (ED) with nerve regeneration painfully slow, if at all. And ED is not just reserved for the post prostatectomy patient as up to 40% of over 40 year-old men have some dysfunction which escalates to around 70% of 70 year-old men (hmm Mick Jagger may be in the 30%).
We know that Chronic Pelvic Pain syndrome, previously known as Chronic Prostatitis, is the most common urological diagnosis in men under 40 years. That it may affect 2-14% of the population. We also believe that chronically tight or overactive pelvic floor muscles are often a contributor to symptoms associated with persistent pelvic pain (in both men and women).
Enough of the bleak picture. What can be done to assist men with leakage, pelvic pain or ED?
There is strong evidence that specific pelvic floor muscle training with the assistance of a Physiotherapist before and after prostate surgery can significantly reduce the severity and duration of post surgical incontinence. A study in the UK found that pelvic exercises helped 70% of men with ED regain normal or significantly improved erectile function. And that bladder training together with pelvic floor down-training or ‘reverse kegels’ can help manage painful symptoms of bladder pain syndrome and persistent pelvic pain.
Let’s get the conversation started regarding Men’s Health issues and increase awareness that help is available.Jen Vardy, our Men’s and Women’s Health Physio held a free Information session on Men’s Health and Continence issues during Movember 2019. Register your interest with us today if you are keen to learn more and attend a future education session here at Form & Practice. Or call to make an appointment with Jen to discuss your individual concerns either via Telehealth or in clinic consultation on 9751 0400.