What is male pelvic floor dysfunction and what are the symptoms and causes?

Men have pelvic floor problems too

It is estimated that one in ten men may experience urinary or bowel leakage at some point in their lives, and it is often difficult to talk about. Sexual dysfunction can be even more challenging to discuss, but can have a devastating impact on your quality of life. Pelvic health physiotherapists, along with other health care professionals, are completely comfortable discussing these issues so don’t put up with them.

The most common ones are urinary leakage after prostate surgery or pelvic pain. Symptoms may include urinary leakage at rest, on the way to empty your bladder or when coughing or exercising. These are particularly prominent after a radical prostatectomy performed for prostate cancer.

There are some conditions such as erectile dysfunction, which may occur in isolation or after radical prostatectomy, “hard flaccid syndrome” and peyronie’s disease. Pelvic floor problems can also impact the bowels, with symptoms such as chronic constipation or accidental bowel leakage.

The causes of these symptoms are varied. Prostate cancer, the associated surgery or treatment, and the age-related enlargement of the prostate are common causes. Operations in the pelvic area can affect soft tissues and nerves, which may cause symptoms too. Prolonged strain on the pelvic floor may cause weakness or overactivity, such as chronic constipation and straining, being overweight or a chronic cough. Some men find that intense, unusual or challenging sports, such as weight lifting, may cause some pelvic floor muscle overactivity or strain.

It is rare that pelvic floor symptoms are a sign of anything serious but it is important to not ignore them, even if you think they are minor! If you have blood in your urine or stools, or any persistent changes in bowel habits, then it is essential that you see your GP.

Treatment is variable, again depending on your symptoms, diagnosis and preferences. It often includes pelvic floor exercises and relaxation techniques. You will be given advice and information about how to manage your symptoms. You may be given more general exercises, acupuncture, stretches, manual therapy, or the application of modalities such as electrical stimulation. Your physiotherapist will explain what they find and what they think is most likely to support your treatment journey.

Male pelvic floor therapy is usually carried out by a pelvic health physiotherapist, and you can find one close to you in the Squeezy directory.

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