Let’s talk about erections!
One of the important actions of the male pelvic floor is to assist in gaining and maintaining an erection. It is estimated that around half of men aged between 40 and 70 will experience erectile dysfunction. It can be difficult to discuss, but it can significantly impact your quality of life, so it’s important to seek medical advice if this becomes a problem for you.
What is even more important is the knowledge that erectile function can be an insight into the health of your heart and cardio-vascular system. It can be an early sign of hardening of the arteries, heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. If you experience erectile dysfunction on a regular basis, it is important to see your GP. A good way to remember this is “hard health equals heart health”.
Erectile dysfunction can be a result of stress, anxiety or depression too.
However, it is also connected with pelvic floor muscle weakness and pelvic floor dysfunction, for example following prostate surgery, particularly radical prostatectomy. Sometimes, it may be related to pelvic floor overactivity and difficulty in fully relaxing the muscles.
When erectile dysfunction is connected to pelvic floor dysfunction, then pelvic floor muscle exercises can be very helpful!
The best way for men to identify their pelvic floor muscles is to try the following:
- First, tighten (squeeze) the muscles around the back passage, as if you’re trying to stop yourself from passing wind. While you hold this squeeze, try to tighten your muscles in such a way as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from passing urine. You should feel a “squeeze and lift” inside.
- If you are standing in front of a mirror, without your clothes on, you should see the base of your penis dip down (pull back) and your scrotum lift up.
- Good ways to remember the move are to think of “nuts to guts” or “testicles to spectacles”. After each “squeeze and lift”, make sure that you fully relax your muscles by letting them rest back to their starting level.
- Try holding the slow squeezes for ten seconds, and repeat up to ten times. Then do ten fast squeezes. Always make sure you let the muscles fully relax between each squeeze. Aim to do these three times a day.
You can see a pelvic health physiotherapist for a personalised assessment if you have any difficulty in finding your pelvic floor muscles, or your symptoms are not resolving. Find one near you in the Squeezy directory.