While Kegel exercises have typically been prescribed for women’s health, men richly benefit from them as well. Just as with women, the muscles in a man’s pelvic floor are the foundations of urinary and sexual health. As author Roni Carin Rabin writes in an article in this week’s New York Times, “Like all muscles, these weaken with age, doctors say. In order to strengthen them, men are told to tighten the muscles they might normally use to cut off the flow of urine midstream or prevent passing gas in a closed space. The contractions are held for a few seconds, then released, with the motion repeated 10 to 15 times for each workout.”
Amy discusses this phenomenon in her book, Heal Pelvic Pain. As she writes:
Men typically suffer the same two basic categories of [pelvic] disorder that women suffer—namely, those that result from muscles that are too tight and/or nerves that are irritated, and those resulting from muscles that are too weak. Not surprisingly, the disorders derive from the same basic causes as well:
Maybe it was too many Saturday afternoons at the stadium sitting too long on a hard surface. Or too many long, fast bike rides on that narrow, high-tech, Italian bicycle saddle. Maybe it was the heavy lifting you did when you helped out on your neighbor’s house renovation, or decided you’d like to split the firewood logs yourself, or hauled the summer deck furniture back into the garage in the autumn, or took up weight training at the gym and did it to excess. The irritation and discomfort that ensue from acute prostatitis can lead to a habitual holding and tightening of the pelvic floor muscles resulting in pelvic floor dysfunction. A simple fall, especially if you landed on the tailbone, or that old sports injury from when you slid into third base last summer and hammered your sacroiliac: any and all of these can result, sooner or later, in a pelvic floor disorder.
One other cause that happens to men only is a prostatectomy—that is, the removal of the prostate—or radiation treatment for prostate cancer or any reproductive cancers. As any prostate cancer patient knows, these therapies for the disease can result in problems of incontinence and erectile dysfunction. In such cases, your oncologist may only be able to promise you that function will come back “within a year or so,” not a terribly cheerful prognosis. What your doctor may not tell you is that a specialist in pelvic floor dysfunction may be able to help.
She prescribes a variety of exercises to perform if you or someone you know is suffering from male pelvic pain, so pick up a copy of Heal Pelvic Pain today to learn more!