Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition that affects both men and women. The condition causes problems with coordinating and relaxing the muscles in the pelvic floor. As a result, it can become challenging to urinate or have a bowel movement. In men, it can cause erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection.
The pelvic floor muscles support your pelvis’s organs, including the bladder, prostate, and rectum. We give little thought to the process that allows us to go to the bathroom until there are problems. Tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles happens without conscious thought. However, with pelvic floor dysfunction, the body tightens the muscles but does not relax them as it should.
Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor dysfunction in men can cause:
- Frequent urge to use the restroom
- Stopping and starting of the urinary stream
- Straining to pass a bowel movement, or the need to change positions to eliminate stool
- Incomplete bowel movements
- Incontinence—leaking urine or stoolfd=
- Painful urination
- Pain in your lower back
- Pain in the pelvic region, rectum, or genitals
- Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
It is important that you talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Diagnosing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
As with most issues, your healthcare provider will start by asking about your symptoms and taking a careful medical history. You should tell your doctor if you have a history of:
- Urinary tract infections
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection
- Interstitial cystitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Constipation or straining to pass bowel movements
- Prostate cancer
- Surgeries involving the organs of the pelvis
Your healthcare provider may do a physical exam. The exam will test the control of your pelvic floor muscles and check for weakness, spasms or knots. Other testing your doctor may order includes:
- A urinalysis and blood work to rule out other causes of your discomfort
- A test where surface electrodes are placed between the testicles or on the sacrum (the base of your spine). The test is not painful, and your provider may use it as an alternative to a physical exam
- A defecating protogram—you will be given an enema of thick liquid that will show up on x-rays. A video x-ray will be used to record muscles’ movement as you attempt to push the liquid from the rectum.
- Anorectal manometry is used to measure how well the sphincter muscles are working.
- The uroflow test is designed to determine how well you can empty your bladder
The above tests are not painful. Your doctor should give you the complete details about what to expect from any testing they recommend.
Treatment for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
There is a range of treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options and help you determine which is best for you. Pelvic floor dysfunction often requires a combination of treatments to control symptoms completely. Pelvic floor dysfunction is not treated with surgery. Treatment options include:
- Physical therapy—there are a number of exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. If your doctor recommends physical therapy, remember that results will take time.
- Biofeedback—biofeedback is one of the most common treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction. It is not painful and helps 2/3 of those with the disorder. Biofeedback is used to retrain your muscles and improve muscle coordination.
- Medications that keep your bowel movements soft and regular are frequently used. Your provider may recommend that you start with an over-the-counter product such as Colace, Mirala, or Senna.
- Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, warm baths, or exercises may all play a role in helping to relax your pelvic floor muscles
Pelvic floor dysfunction does not go away on its own. The symptoms will remain and often worsen without treatment.
Contact Manhattan Men’s Pelvic Health
If you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, the doctors at Manhattan Men’s Pelvic Health can help. Our team specializes in men’s pelvic health, caring for the overall well-being of the muscles and structures that impact the pelvic region. Call today to schedule an appointment at our office in Manhattan or Westchester.