Pelvic Floor Muscles and Exercises
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Why do pelvic floor muscles weaken?

We all take our pelvic floor muscles for granted. However, if we neglect them, they can become weaker, causing problems. Factors that can weaken your pelvic floor include:

  • Lack of exercise-they need regular exercise to maintain good muscle tone; just like other muscles of the body. If they are not exercised, they may become stretched, weak and no longer work effectively, leading to the symptoms outlined above.
  • Pelvic surgery-such as surgery to reduce your prostate gland.
  • Constipation-Straining to open your bowels; the ‘pushing down’ movement when you strain to open your bowels can overstretch your pelvic floor and make it weaker.
  • Being overweight-extra weight puts more pressure on your pelvic floor. Your GP will be able to tell you whether you are an acceptable weight for your height and what you should do if you are over or under weight.
  • Having a chronic cough-every cough bounces on your pelvic floor, so persistent coughing can damage and overstretch the muscles.

How can I find my pelvic floor muscles?

The first thing to do is to correctly identify the muscles that need to be exercised. There are several ways to identify them:

Method 1-Stopping the flow
When you go to the toilet, try to stop or slow the flow of urine midway through emptying your bladder. If you are able to do this you are squeezing the correct muscles. Do not do this repetitively. This is not an exercise but a way to identify the correct muscles.

Method 2-Imagining yourself controlling diarrhea or wind
Sit or lie down comfortably with the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and abdomen relaxed. Tighten the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to control diarrhea or wind. Relax it. Practice the movement several times until you are sure you are exercising the correct muscle. Try not to squeeze your buttocks.

Method 3-Visualisation
Stand in front of the mirror, with no clothes on and tighten your pelvic floor muscles, you should see the base of the penis draw in and scrotum lift up. The back passage will tighten too bit it is not the focus of the exercise. When you relax your pelvic floor muscles, you should feel a sensation of ‘letting go’.

How do I do pelvic floor exercises?

If you can feel the muscles working, exercise them by:

  1. Tightening and drawing in around the urethra and anus all at once, lifting them UP inside. Try and hold this contraction strongly as you count to five then release and relax. You should have a definite feeling of ‘letting go’.
  2. Repeat this ‘squeeze and lift’ as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 12 squeezes.
  3. Try to do three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes each, with rest in between.
  4. Do this whole training plan (three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes) at least three times a day but can be as many times a day while lying, sitting or standing.

To check that you are doing the exercises correctly stand in front of the mirror and do a contraction. You should see your penis dip downwards and see and feel your scrotum lift upwards.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tail bone at the back to the pubic bone in front.

A man’s pelvic floor supports his bladder and bowel. The urethra (urine tube) and the rectum and anus (back passage) pass through the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles help to control your bladder and bowel. They also help sexual function. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscle strong.

Why should I do a pelvic floor muscle exercise?

Sometimes the pelvic floor can weaken. If this happens, you may experience a range of symptoms including:

  • A tendency to leak urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze (referred to as stress urinary incontinence)
  • A need to go to the toilet and leakage before you get there or if you don’t go (referred to as urge incontinence); or
  • An inability to control passing of wind from your back passage.

Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen your muscles so that they can give your organs support again. This will improve your bladder or bowel control and improve or stop any leakage. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to achieve erection and may prevent premature ejaculation.

 

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