Archive for the ‘pelvic floor exercises’ Category

Pelvic floor exercises for men

January 15, 2016

Historically, pelvic floor exercises, have been recommended for women with urinary incontinence.  However, doctors have discovered that these same exercises are useful for men as well.  This blog will discuss the use of pelvic floor exercise for men.

The muscles of the pelvic floor not only hold organs in place, but they are also important for bladder control. Because these muscles often weaken with age, men are advised to exercise them regularly by doing pelvic floor exercises in order to maintain their continence of urine as well as having improvement in their sexual functioning.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

The muscles that support the organs in the pelvic area are known as pubococcygeus or pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are like a trampoline or sling that stretches along the bottom of the pelvic area from the pubic bone in the front to the tail bone (or coccyx) at the back, as well as from side to side between the sitting bones. In men, they support both the bladder and the bowel, with the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder) and the rectum (back passage) passing through the muscles. Pelvic floor muscles are also important for erectile function, and they work with other muscles to help stabilise the back. 

Why exercise the pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles naturally stretch and weaken with age, which can gradually make them less efficient. The muscles can also be weakened in men who often strain to empty their bowels – such as having constipation on a regular basis – who have a chronic cough, bronchitis or asthma, who perform tasks that involve repeated heavy lifting, and who are overweight or generally unfit. Having surgery for an enlarged prostate gland can cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken, as can neurological damage such as from a stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or a spinal injury.

Weak pelvic floor muscles in men can lead to stress urinary incontinence, in which small amounts of urine leak when pressure is placed on the bladder – for example, when bending forward, sitting, coughing or laughing – or urge incontinence, when there is an urgent need to urinate more often. You may leak just a few drops of urine, have a dribble after you finish urinating or leak a steady stream of urine. Weak pelvic floor muscles can affect erectile function too.

However, in a similar way that you can strengthen the muscles of your arms or legs through exercise, you can also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

These exercises are also recommended for men prior to having surgery for an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer to help improve their bladder control. They are also recommended for men who experience chronic pelvic pain syndrome – performing the exercises when pain starts can help to interrupt a cycle of pain-spasm-pain.

How can you find your pelvic floor muscles?

Before you start doing pelvic floor muscle exercises, it’s important to find the correct muscles to ensure you are exercising them. The next time you urinate, stop urinating mid-stream and concentrate on the muscles that allowed you to do this – these are also the same ones you use to prevent passing wind. Once you have emptied your bladder (don’t stop the flow mid-stream more than once), try contracting the same muscles – you should notice the base of your penis rising towards your tummy and see your testicles move up as you contract the muscles.

Another way to find your pelvic floor muscles is to sit comfortably or lie down, ensuring the muscles of your abdomen, thighs and buttocks are relaxed. Now, tighten only the muscles that control your back passage as if you are trying to avoid passing wind for a few seconds, then relax.

To ensure you aren’t squeezing other muscles, try squeezing your pelvic floor muscles again and:

  • Rest your hand on your tummy – you should not feel your abdominal muscles tighten
  • Pay attention to your breath – if you are holding your breath, you are using your chest muscles; try to breathe normally while squeezing your pelvic floor muscles
  • Sit in front of a mirror – if you notice your body moving up and down, even slightly, you are squeezing your buttocks
  • Watch your thighs – their muscles should be relaxed without noticeable movement in the upper legs. 

How should men do pelvic floor exercises?

Now that you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, simply contract them, squeezing and drawing up the muscles around your urethra and back passage at the same time, and holding them for a count of 5, then release the muscles slowly. By doing this simple technique, you have just flexed your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t hold your breath, and make sure you are not working other muscles such as those in the buttocks, thighs or abdominal area.

Wait a few seconds before repeating the technique, doing a set of 8-10 squeezes using strong slow contractions, then follow with one set of 8-10 quick rapid contractions. Repeat this sequence 4-5 times a day. Once you find it easy, you can increase the count for longer, up to 10 seconds. However, take care you don’t over-exercise the muscles and cause muscle fatigue towards the end of the day, thereby increasing urine leakage.

It will take 4-6 weeks before you notice any improvement, but after about 3 months you should experience the full benefit of doing pelvic floor exercises. At this point, you can change your routine to doing pelvic floor exercises twice a day.

If you have problems with incontinence or have recently had prostate surgery, you may be referred to a specialist who will help train you in how to do the exercise correctly and establish a program based on the strength of your muscles.

Pelvic floor exercises take very little time and can be done while sitting, standing, lying down or walking. Because others will not notice the muscles moving, you can do them discreetly during your everyday activities, such as while on a bus or train, sitting in a car, even standing in a queue – the main thing is to get into a routine of doing them every day. Try getting into the practice of doing them at the same time, such as when brushing your, after urinating, when commuting home from work or during advert breaks while watching the TV in the evening.

Bottom Line:  Pelvic floor exercises aren’t just for women but men can also benefit from these exercises.  Men should consider doing these exercises that don’t require any equipment, very little time, and have very effective results.

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Urinary Incontinence: Gotta Go, Gotta Go Right Now!

November 28, 2015

Urinary incontinence affects millions of Americans and causes havoc with their lives.  It I a source of embarrassment, shame and often depression.  Other medical consequences of incontinence include skin irritation, urinary tract infections, and pelvic pain.  This blog will discuss treatment options including medications and non-medical solutions.

Urinary incontinence means that the person suffering from it starts losing his/her control over the bladder. This leads to several kinds of problems of the urinary system including sudden urination, slow but steady leakage of urine, or dripping of urine when one undertakes a physically stressful exercise like lifting weight.  Those who have incontinence often lose urine with coughing, laughing, or sneezing.

Although this is a common medical problem, many suffers continue to suffer in silence, living a secluded and reclusive life.

While these causes cannot be controlled, it is important to take note of and control factors that can worsen the condition:

Medication

If you have a problem of urinary incontinence and the symptoms have gone from bad to worse, you need to check with your doctor about the medication or drugs you have been taking. For, chances are that some of these may be exacerbating the problem. Certain drugs to treat high blood pressure are linked to an increase in incontinence.

Alpha blockers dilate blood vessels to reduce blood pressure and they also often relax the muscles of the bladder, furthering urine flow. Some drugs to treat depression can contribute to worsening incontinence symptoms.

Anti-depressants work by relaxing the nerves of the mind and may also affect the ability of the bladder muscles to contract (side effects).

Diuretics are another set of drugs that are associated with increased

urination. In fact, these drugs are also called ‘water pills’, and are designed to flush out excess salt from your body to treat conditions like high blood pressure.

Caffeine

Caffeine is an important component of our daily lives as most of us consume it through coffee, tea and chocolates. Excessive consumption of caffeine is associated with the problem of increased urination. While mild consumption doesn’t have a negative effect, excess consumption can affect the renal system, as caffeine is a stimulant. It stimulates the cardiovascular system, increasing the heart rate as well as blood pressure. This increases the rate of blood to be filtered. It also relaxes the bladder’s detrusor muscles, causing them to feel fuller more frequently. So, limiting caffeine intake is healthy.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major health concern of today as it affects the functioning of the entire body. It also increases the risk of urinary incontinence, as well as its severity. Efforts should be made to prevent and control diabetes by keeping your weight under control, exercising regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Excessive weight also puts extra pressure on the pelvic muscles and weakens them. Therefore, it is also important to control body weight.

Solutions

Besides controlling the aforementioned factors, it is important to take medical help to treat and manage urinary incontinence.

In some patients, adopting behavioral changes may help. For example, decreasing fluid intake to average levels, urinating more frequently to decrease the amount of urine that is held in the bladder and keeping regular bowel habits (as constipation can worsen the problem) may have a positive effect.

Pelvic muscle training exercises, aka Kegel exercises, can specifically help those who suffer from incontinence. The exercises help patients exercise better control of their detrusor muscles.

Weight loss has also been shown to help decrease symptoms in overweight people.

Bottom Line:  Urinary incontinence is a common condition affecting millions of American men and women.  Help is available and no one needs to “depend on Depends”!

Urinary Incontinence-Don’t Suffer In Silence

December 20, 2014

Urinary incontinence is one of life’s most embarrassing problems. Millions of American women suffer from incontinence in silence. I see dozens of women every month with this problem and so many of them have been wearing pads and diapers for years because they were too embarrassed to bring up the problem with their physician. This blog will discuss the problem and why it is important to see a physician to get treatment.

There are millions of people who deal with the embarrassing and disruptive effects of urinary incontinence, yet it’s a health secret that is rarely discussed. Contrary to what a lot of people think, urinary incontinence is not a normal sign of aging. Yes, it is more common in older men and women but you don’t have to live with the problem as treatments are available.

There are several reasons for urinary incontinence, but for women, one of the most common is weakened muscles in the pelvic floor.
A woman’s body goes through many changes during a lifetime and weakness or injury to muscles in the pelvic floor can cause health issues for women of all ages. The group of muscles in the pelvic floor can be affected by aging, childbirth, posture or injury. This loss of support of the pelvic muscles can result in incontinence, pelvic pain, or pain with intercourse.

Weakened pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened with Kegel exercises. (see my website, http://www.neilbaum.com, for more information on Kegel exercises). For the problem of urgency and frequency and urge incontinence or overactive bladder, there are effective medications to treat this condition. Finally, for women with both kinds of incontinence due to weakened pelvic muscles, they can be treated successfully with physical therapy.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should speak to your physician as help is available:
Do you usually get a strong urge to urinate?
Do you always make it to the bathroom on time?
Do you leak urine when you sneeze or cough?
Do you leak urine during physical activity?
Do you get up more than once per night to urinate?
Do you feel heaviness in the pelvic area?

Bottom Line: If you’ve been keeping urinary incontinence a secret, you’re not alone. You don’t have to accept it. Help is available. Talk to your doctor.

Bladder Symptoms-Stop Depending On Depends!

November 28, 2014

Millions of American women suffer from urinary bladder problems. Unfortunately, they suffer in silence as women feel too embarrassed to discuss their symptoms with their physicians. This article will discuss the common symptoms of bladder control and what can be done about it that doesn’t require a diaper or Depends.
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The involuntary leaking of urine is a distressing symptom which is associated with loss of confidence, self esteem, relationship difficulties and sometimes depression. Some women deal with the situation by avoiding socializing with family and friends, wearing dark clothes and frequently changing their clothing, using scents, sanitary pads and even diapers.
Bladder difficulties can affect all age groups, but are more common in middle age and older women. It is likely that as many as one in five women experience incontinence at some stage in their lives. Approximately 70 per cent of urinary incontinence sufferers tolerate the symptoms and those who seek medical help wait for an average of four years because of embarrassment, shame and stigma.

Talking about these symptoms is difficult but women do not need to feel reluctant about seeking help as so many women can be effectively treated without surgery.

The biggest risk factor for women is damage to the pelvic floor especially related to pregnancy and child birth. Other conditions include extreme sports, chronic coughing and heavy lifting. Contributing causes include obesity, smoking and drugs that affect the bladder or the muscle that holds urine inside the bladder.
There are two main types of incontinence: stress and urge. Urine loss in the stress type is preceded by increasing the pressure within the abdomen such as occurs with laughing, sneezing, or coughing. Women experiencing urge incontinence have a compelling urge to pass urine, which is impossible to control and causes leaking.

Treatment can start with measures, which do not involve medication, but can be followed by pharmacotherapy if the conservative measure are not effective.

Initially patients are advised to decrease the intake of caffeine and carbonated drinks, smoking and avoiding constipation.
Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises, are the recommended first line treatment for stress, mixed and urgency incontinence and result in significant improvement in up to 80 per cent of cases. Bladder training and electrical stimulation are other effective ways of treating incontinence.

Bottom Line: Wearing a diaper to staying at home because of the loss of urine, is not acceptable to most women who suffer from incontinence. It doesn’t have to be that way. See your doctor and he\she can often find a solution that will make you dry, comfortable, and lead you to a healthy lifestyle.