The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. A man’s pelvic floor muscles support his bladder and bowel. The urine tube and the back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. They also help sexual function. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
Men of all ages need to have strong pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles can be made weaker by:
Men with stress incontinence – that is, men who wet themselves when they cough, sneeze or are active – will find pelvic floor muscle training can help in getting over this problem.
Pelvic floor muscle training may also be of use for men who have an urgent need to pass urine more often (called urge incontinence).
Men who have problems with bowel control might find pelvic floor muscle training can help the muscle that closes the back passage. This muscle is one of the pelvic floor muscles.
The first thing to do is to find out which muscles you need to train.
If you don’t feel a distinct “squeeze and lift” of your pelvic floor muscles, or if you can’t slow your stream of urine as talked about in Point 3, ask for help from your doctor, physiotherapist, or continence nurse. They will help you to get your pelvic floor muscles working right. Men with very weak pelvic floor muscles can benefit from pelvic floor muscle training.
Now that you can feel the muscles working, you can:
Do this whole training plan (three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes) each day while lying down, sitting or standing.
While doing pelvic floor muscle training:
Fewer good squeezes are better than a lot of half hearted ones! If you are not sure that you are doing the squeezes right, or if you do not see a change in symptoms after 3 months, ask for help from your doctor, physiotherapist, or continence nurse.
Like all exercises, pelvic floor exercises are most effective when individually tailored and monitored. The exercises described are only a guide and may not help if done incorrectly or if the training is inappropriate.
Continence and men's health or pelvic floor physiotherapists specialise in pelvic floor muscle exercises. They can assess your pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet your specific needs. They can also prescribe other treatment options such as biofeedback and discuss relevant lifestyle factors with you.
You can search for a list of continence and men's health or pelvic floor physiotherapists on the Australian Physiotherapy Association website. Or call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.