Men’s Health and the Pelvic Floor…that’s right, fellas, you have one, too
By Shannon Stoby Physiotherapist
I know, I know…you don’t want to talk about it. I get it. Nobody wants to talk about what’s going on ‘down there’. Incontinence, erectile dysfunction, fertility issues, prostate concerns, constipation, pain. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re just ‘getting older’. You’ve probably been offered medication, or even surgery. But what if there was another way…
Pelvic floor physiotherapy has gained some traction in the area of women’s health, but less is typically said in regards to the benefits for men.
Though there are clearly some anatomical and functional differences in our structures, the pelvic floor of both men and women is comprised of many muscles that attach to all sides of the pelvis. It is really more of a sling or bowl and, within this bowl, are ligaments, organs, nerves, vessels—with each structure and the system as a whole encased in fascia. When in optimal condition, the pelvic floor keeps you from peeing your pants, allows evacuation of your bowels, supports your genitalia and sexual function, and moves rhythmically with your respiratory diaphragm in breathing. When not in optimal condition, any or all of these functions may be affected. In fact, that lingering low back or hip pain may also have roots in your pelvic floor.
So, what causes things to go awry?
Some common causes in a not exhaustive list include:
Injury. This may be direct injury to the genitals, but can also be indirect trauma that causes pelvic alignment to go askew and affects the muscles of the pelvic floor. Trauma can also be of an emotional nature, as well as a physical one.
Surgery. Scar tissue in the vicinity can create tissue restrictions that affect structure and function.
Stress. We all know that stress can wreak havoc on our mind and our body. Certainly it plays with our hormones, which have widespread effects on all our systems; but, the pressures of life accumulate in our tissues in many ways and manifest uniquely in each of us at different times.
So, what can be done?
A pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment includes an internal assessment of the tissues and structures of the pelvic floor. An external assessment of the strength and mobility of surrounding muscles is also performed to look holistically at other causes and effects. From a myofascial release perspective, the tension and restrictions can then be treated internally and externally to release the pressure on the structures beneath and help return the body to balance and function. Exercises may also be recommended to support the pelvic floor, but such prescription depends on assessment and is tailored to the individual.
One of the most important things to recognize in dealing with any pelvic health concern is that you are not alone. Because no one wants to talk about it, anyone faced with such issues feels isolated and embarrassed and unsure of what to do; and, most of the time, none of the treatment options are very appealing. But, it’s just another area of your body, another aspect of your health, and, the good news is, you may have more treatment options than you think.
Join Shannon Stoby this Thursday, November 12th at 6:30 for her seminar:
The Goods on Your Goods. Register Here
By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.
Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.