The Male Pelvic Floor – Why You Should Care

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Disclaimer: please note that regardless of how one identifies, the assessment and treatment of pelvic health concerns is hugely important. Please consult a registered pelvic floor therapist to determine your specific needs. 

It’s a common misconception that women alone suffer from pelvic health concerns. In reality, women and men of all ages can experience problems related to their pelvic health. Research estimates that as many as 1 in 6.25 men will experience pelvic pain symptoms in their lives. Some professionals believe that this number is higher due to under-reporting and lack of objective testing measures. 

Why Is This Important?

We don’t often talk about what’s going on below the belt, and that’s unfortunate! Sexual health is considered an important component of overall wellbeing. Male pelvic health concerns are prevalent and unsurprisingly associated with negative relationship changes and decreased quality of life.  Taking the time to learn more about this topic can remove some of the stigma around talking about what happens ‘down there’ and help people understand that there is hope. 

What Is The Purpose Of The Male Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and soft tissue running from the pubic bone to the base of the spine, like a hammock. They interact together to serve as sphincters (controlling the opening of the urethra, vagina and anus), allow sexual intimacy, promote venous and lymphatic flow, provide support to the lumbo-pelvic complex, and support internal organs.

What Kinds Of Pelvic Floor Issues Do Men Experience? 

It is important to understand that there are various kinds of pelvic floor issues that men may experience.  Working with a pelvic floor physiotherapist can be very beneficial for many concerns, including: 

  • Incontinence
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Chronic constipation 
  • Urinary retention
  • Pelvic floor muscle tightness
  • Pelvic pain
    • Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS)
    • Testicular/penile pain syndromes
  • Frequent urination at night (nocturia)

More on CP/CPPS

Chronic prostatitis is also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This can be an incredibly frustrating diagnosis to be given because it is considered a diagnosis of exclusion – meaning nothing else is found to be wrong. In most cases like this, the prostate itself is not actually the cause of pain, making this label even more confusing. Chronic prostatitis is defined as “perceived pain in structures related to the abdomen or pelvis lasting more than three to six months without a known cause or pathology that typically results in sexual health issues, urinary complaints and worry” (Gronski, 2020). 

What Now?

If you are someone struggling with concerns related to your pelvic health, there is a good chance a registered pelvic floor therapist can help! You do not have to suffer. Pelvic floor therapy is a one on one opportunity to meet with a practitioner who can help. They have taken advanced training to thoroughly assess and treat the pelvis and will take the time to listen to your story, understand your concerns, and develop an individualized treatment plan to help you meet your goals. 

References 

Cohen, D., Gonzalez, J., & Goldstein, I. (2016). The Role of Pelvic Floor Muscles in Male Sexual Dysfunction and Pelvic Pain. Sexual medicine reviews4(1), 53–62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2015.10.001

Porst, H., Montorsi, F., Rosen, R. C., Gaynor, L., Grupe, S., & Alexander, J. (2007). The Premature Ejaculation Prevalence and Attitudes (PEPA) survey: prevalence, comorbidities, and professional help-seeking. European urology51(3), 816–824. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2006.07.004

Althof S. E. (2006). Prevalence, characteristics and implications of premature ejaculation/rapid ejaculation. The Journal of urology175(3 Pt 1), 842–848. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5347(05)00341-1

Faubion, S. S., Shuster, L. T., & Bharucha, A. E. (2012). Recognition and management of nonrelaxing pelvic floor dysfunction. Mayo Clinic proceedings87(2), 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2011.09.004

Mitchell, D. A., & Esler, D. M. (2009). Pelvic instability – Painful pelvic girdle in pregnancy. Australian family physician38(6), 409–410.

 Pelvic Health Solutions (n.d.). Men’s Pelvic Health. Retrieved from https://pelvichealthsolutions.ca/for-the-patient/mens-pelvic-health/

Magistro, G., Wagenlehner, F. M., Grabe, M., Weidner, W., Stief, C. G., & Nickel, J. C. (2016). Contemporary Management of Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. European urology69(2), 286–297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2015.08.061

Gronksi, S. (2020). Sexual Health & Pelvic Pain. [PowerPoint slides]

 

Written By: Clair Harris

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