Pelvic Floor Health is an issue of importance to both men and women. Men can experience issue of both urinary and fecal incontinence due to age, injury, or prostate-related health conditions. Men dealing with pelvic floor issues should consult a urologist and may find that physical therapy and regular pelvic floor exercise can help improve control.
Pelvic Floor contractions, often called Kegels, can be very helpful for strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. The challenge is figuring out what you are actually doing and how to contract the muscle.
Pelvic floor exercises can help men strengthen the pelvic floor and increase or reestablish urinary control. If you have issues related to your prostate, such as an enlarged prostate, discuss with your doctor to determine the best course of action and whether pelvic floor exercise is an appropriate part of your treatment plan.
In men, the front muscle of the pelvic floor surrounds the shaft of the lower penis; the back muscle surrounds the rectum; and the center point is crossed at the perineal body. Pelvic floor exercises engage the entire region, strengthening the muscles throughout the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor exercises involve the contraction of the rectum, as if suppressing gas, and the contraction of the urethra, as if stopping the flow of urine. A properly executed pelvic floor exercise should include a slight movement of the penile head and a small lifted feeling at the perineal body.
When you perform a pelvic floor exercise, close your rectum (as if preventing a bowel movement), and then use the penile muscles to lift the penis and tighten the urethra (as if stopping the flow of urine). The strongest feel of the contraction will be in the rectum, and when done correctly, you will feel the rectum pull inward. With a full contraction of this area, you have performed one repetition. Next, slowly and with control, release. Then, release further, letting go of any residual tension in your pelvic muscles.
The easiest way to figure out what you are doing is to imagine how you “hold in” gas when you are in public. Another simple way to make sure you are contracting the right muscles is that, the next time you are urinating, try to stop the flow of urine mid-stream. You should not do this on a regular basis, as it can cause bacteria to move back up the urethra and is bad for your bladder. But you can try it once or twice to make sure you are isolating the right muscles.
Once you’ve figured out how to contract the right muscle, make a deliberate effort to contract – you will feel like you are lifting up your rectum, into the core of your body, and slightly lifting your penis. Hold for a count of three, and release.
Once you feel comfortable with the basics of doing a pelvic floor contraction, you can learn additional exercises to support your pelvic floor strength. For instance, see the instructions for quick-flicks, long holds, and elevators.
Click here to review additional resources on male pelvic floor health.