What is Male Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

by Sylvie Le , DPT, PYTC February 20, 2024
Man Training His Pelvic Floor to help with his overall sexual health and urinary track health

We all know it’s time to visit the Physical Therapist when we need to rehab a knee injury or want to address that unexplained back pain — but what about for erectile dysfunction or changes in bladder control?

Male pelvic health is often overlooked, and statistically, men are less likely to seek treatment for issues relating to pelvic health, such as urinary incontinence. It’s easy to understand why — our pelvic region is intimate: it’s a key player in peeing, pooping, and having sex. However, avoiding seeking treatment can not only exacerbate the physical problem but can take an emotional toll, too.  

Many people don’t realize that a PT can help manage or treat a range of issues, from bladder control to sexual function in men. Pelvic health physical therapy is a proven and effective way to restore and improve pelvic health in men and women. Read on to discover more about the male pelvic floor muscles, what happens when they don’t work properly, and what to expect from a pelvic floor PT session!

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Men

Some people are surprised to learn that men have pelvic floors as well as women! The pelvic floor is the name for a collection of muscles and soft tissues in your pelvis that form the base of your core and provide a supportive hammock for your pelvic organs, such as the bowel and bladder. It also plays a crucial role in assisting these organs and, therefore, affects urinary, bowel, and sexual health. 

Your pelvic floor works like any other muscle group — the muscles may become weakened, tight, overactive, or engaged incorrectly. This can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) and its associated conditions. 

Common Conditions Associated with Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Men

  • Bladder issues such as incontinence, frequent urination, desperate urge to urinate, or painful urination.
  • Bowel problems such as constipation or straining and losing control of your bowels.
  • Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory disorders, or painful sex. The impact of the pelvic floor in sexual disorders is one of the most studied areas of pelvic floor dysfunction in men, and pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown repeatedly to be effective in improving sexual function and health.
  • Pain in the abdomen, lower back, or genitals.  

PFD is not the only cause of these symptoms, so if you are experiencing any of these issues, it’s important to visit your Primary Care Physician. However, if you are experiencing several of these symptoms, it’s a strong indication of dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles and you can always seek attention and ask for a referral to a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist. 

What Causes Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Men?

  • Aging is one of the most common contributors to PFD. As we age, many muscles and tissues weaken and become laxer, and our pelvic floor muscles are no exception. The weakening of these muscles may impact bladder or bowel control.
  • Prostate surgery can cause incontinence and other pelvic issues in some men. Fortunately, there is good evidence to suggest that pre and post-op pelvic floor exercises can help restore pelvic function.
  • Chronic straining caused by pushing when constipated or even chronic coughing can weaken the pelvic floor.
  • Injuries to your pelvic region can affect pelvic floor muscle function.
  • Chronic back or hip pain may build up increased tension in the pelvic floor, leading to PFD.

Visiting a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

A pelvic floor PT is a specialist who can help determine whether a musculoskeletal element is contributing to your pelvic symptoms or condition. SOPTRI has a specialized team of pelvic health PTs for all genders who, after assessing your symptoms, will offer a tailor-made treatment plan to address the functioning of your pelvic floor muscles, which may include exercises, manual treatments such as myofascial release therapies, breathing exercises, and lifestyle advice.

One of the greatest benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy is all the positive side effects! Working on the muscles that influence bladder control may also help improve your sex life, give you better core control, reduce back pain, and make you feel healthier and happier overall!

We also recognize that seeking help with some of the issues associated with PFD can be sensitive, but we offer an experienced, sympathetic ear as well as the most up-to-date and effective treatments. If you are concerned about your pelvic floor health, make an appointment with one of our pelvic floor PTs today!

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