Male Pelvic Dysfunction. Yes: men also have a pelvic floor.
By Jillian McGowan, PT, DPT
As the conversation about pelvic physical therapy grows, more and more women are discovering the benefits of treatment whether postpartum, postoperative or addressing pelvic pain. But where does that leave our male patients? I regularly receive the question, “You also treat men?” The answer is yes: men also have a pelvic floor.
In both men and women, the pelvic floor serves as a support system for your pelvic organs, helps maintain continence, allows for normal bowel and bladder function, and plays an important role in sexual activity. While the conditions can vary between men and women, it is important for everyone to understand the conservative treatment options available to them through physical therapy.
Millions of men struggle with pelvic floor dysfunction across the globe and one of the biggest issues that male patients face is incontinence and pelvic pain post-prostatectomy. Research has shown that participation in a pelvic floor physical therapy program can restore continence in males following surgery and that those patients who initiate treatment in the early postoperative stages will see better results than those who delay.
In addition to incontinence, men may also experience chronic pelvic pain or sexual dysfunction. Often, dysfunction in your pelvic floor musculature can contribute to these symptoms and proper evaluation may help you identify the cause and find a solution.
In pelvic physical therapy, you will work with your therapist to identify underlying pelvic floor dysfunction that might be contributing to your symptoms. Your PT will educate you about the way your pelvic floor should be working and provide you with the tools you need to retrain your muscles, restore normal muscle length and rebuild strength, coordination, and endurance. At Sutton Place Physical Therapy, a pelvic floor PT works 1:1 with our patients strengthening their pelvic floor and often giving them exercises to practice at home. This ensures our patients have a personal relationship with our team and ensures they fully understand their unique PT program.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can significantly affect your quality of life. It is important that we don’t let ourselves fall into the narrative of “its normal after surgery” or “it happens when you get older.'' Leaking urine is not normal, waking up to go to the bathroom several times a night is not normal, and pelvic pain is not normal. By working with a pelvic floor physical therapist, you can decide what you want your “normal life” to be!
Cheing G, Fung B, Kannan P, et al. Effectiveness of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training Alone and in Combination With Biofeedback, Electrical Stimulation, or Both Compared to Control for Urinary Incontinence in Men Following Prostatectomy: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Physical Therapy. 2018; 98(11): 932-945.
Shoskes DA. The Challenge of Erectile Dysfunction in the Man with Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Curr Urol Rep. 2012; 13: 263-267.
Bakuba S, Kucharzewski M, Rajkowska-Labon E. Efficacy of Physiotherapy for Urinary Incontinence following Prostate Cancer Surgery. Biomed Research International. 2014: 785263.