Simply stated – the pelvic floor isn’t just a female thing – it is a muscular sling supporting the pelvic and abdominal organs of men and women. The pelvic floor helps keep us dry. More than 50 percent of men over the age of 60 experience bladder control issues due to an enlarged prostate.
Before I share my best pelvic floor tips for both sexes, we need to agree on the following three truths: strengthening a weak pelvic floor may improve bladder control and confidence, utilizing my tips in conjunction with seeing your healthcare provider will create the most optimal effect, and it’s important to allow yourself to have a bad day here and there.
Here are my best pelvic floor tips.
Start a Bladder or Bowel Diary
For a week, keep track of your trips to the bathroom, your leaks and how much and what you are drinking. Note any trends with fluid intake, time of day and activity level in relation to using the bathroom and your leaks. Your documentation may help your health care provider order tests, make a more accurate diagnosis or prompt a referral to a specialist.But, please consider what you can do with the information. Are there any trends you are seeing? Do you have more problems in the morning, afternoon or evening? Do you need to space out your fluid intake? ou may be able to cue into changes that may positively impact your bladder control and confidence.
Drink more water and consider cutting down on alcohol and caffeine
Many newly incontinent persons incorrectly assume if there is less water in the system there will be less water to pass. Cutting out water, or significantly decreasing water consumption, while continuing to consume alcohol and caffeine at normal previous levels may aggravate the bladder and make the leakage problems worse. Hydration with plain, old water is one of the keys to improved bladder function. And, revisit your diary – it may be possible that alcohol or caffeine may be a trigger to your leakage pattern. Do you need notice you have more problems with bladder control after a glass or two of coffee or your favorite cocktail?
Yes – we need to talk about this. Men can do Kegels and should do Kegels to improve bladder control. Kegels are not just meant for women. Repetitively performing Kegels will improve pelvic floor muscle function, strength and endurance. Kegels should be a habit like brushing your teeth. The truth of the matter is – if your pelvic floor muscles are in better space they will be better able to support you and keep you dry. Here are some cues that may help you or your loved one perform a Kegel.
Return to the idea that pelvic floor is a muscular sling. It supports your abdominal and pelvic organs kind of like a hammock running along the base of pelvis – front to back and side to side.
Gently pull the pelvic floor up and in towards your navel as if trying to protect yourself from a blow to the belly. When you do this – you may feel a gentle tightening of the muscles underneath your navel. Your tailbone may gently rises up and in. Continue your normal breath. Keep in mind, the Kegel, I am recommending is not 100% effort but a gentle tightening of the muscular sling.
Continue breathing and hold the Kegel for a few seconds. Then gradually relax. Repeat until you’re fatigued or have completed your goal.
That concludes my list of my best pelvic floor tips. What are your best practices?
I am now 71 and have just had my prostate removed. When I was in my early 40’s I had a strange thing happen in my pelvic floor region. The Dr. called it "Levator Ani Syndrone". My pelvic muscles would go into spasm when I stood up and my legs wouldn’t support me and I would fall. I was bedridden for at least 3 months with this and it was extremely difficult to have a bowel movement or urinate. I was on muscle relaxers, IB prophen, and supositories for months daily. I finally got to the point where I could walk without the spasms and continued on with my life. Since then, I always have had a soreness in that area, especially when trying to ride a bike. Now that I’m trying to do Kegels, it has made the area very sore and almost prone to not be able to do them. Any suggestions because I’m leaking quite a lot, I think, as oposed to where I should be at 5 weeks post surgery. I see the Dr. in about 4 days.
Thank you for reaching out. My recommendation is to stop your Kegels for now. Your doctor’s appointment is an opportunity to report your condition as well as ask for a referral to a pelvic floor specialists such as a women’s health physical therapist. Despite feeling like you have had a set back post-surgery, an individualized evaluation and treatment by your physician and physical therapist should allow you to recover well.