Anatomy of the male pelvic floor
The male pelvic floor is often a neglected topic in discussions about men’s health and well-being. The term “pelvic floor” is commonly associated with the female anatomy and is seldom explored in men. However, it is an essential part of the body that plays a crucial role in overall health and well-being. The male pelvic floor resembles a hammock, a soft yet supportive structure for its internal contents. The anatomy of the male pelvic floor is primarily composed of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues in the lower part of the pelvis, crucial for supporting pelvic organs and controlling urinary, bowel, and sexual functions.
Key structures within include:
- Prostate: a gland surrounding the male urethra just below the bladder. Its primary function is to produce prostatic fluid, a part of seminal fluid released during ejaculation. Due to its anatomical position and functions, the prostate influences urination, erection, and ejaculation.
- Urethra: the conduit carrying urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, passing through the prostate.
- Rectum: the last part of the large intestine, terminating in the anus.
Functions of the male pelvic floor
Similar to the female gender, the male pelvic floor is a body part deserving attention and care. Strengthening and maintaining pelvic floor health can enhance a man’s quality of life and prevent various common issues. The male pelvic floor plays a crucial role, with key functions including:
- Control of urinary functions: pelvic floor muscles aid in regulating urinary flow, allowing men to retain urine when necessary and release it when appropriate, crucial for preventing urinary incontinence.
- Control of bowel functions: the pelvic floor also contributes to controlling bowel functions, regulating defecation and preventing fecal incontinence.
- Support during sexual activity: during erection and sexual activity, the pelvic floor assists in achieving and maintaining erection. Strong pelvic muscles can contribute to improved erectile function and sexual pleasure.
- Pelvic stability: during physical activity and weightlifting, the pelvic floor helps stabilize the pelvis, preventing injuries or excessive strain in the pelvic area.
Genetic predisposition and aging are the main causes of weakening in this area for both men and women. With age, these supporting structures may weaken, increasing the likelihood of issues. Common problems associated with pelvic floor dysfunctions include:
- Urinary incontinence: this can result from various factors, including weakening pelvic muscles due to aging, prostate surgery, or injuries. It may manifest as involuntary urine leakage during coughing, sneezing, physical activity, or even at rest.
- Pelvic organ prolapse: this occurs when pelvic organs shift from their normal positions due to weakened pelvic floor support.
- Chronic pelvic pain: pain in the pelvic region may result from various factors, including muscle tension and spasms. It can be a psychoneuromuscular disorder leading to chronic localized pain, often alternating between flare-ups and quiescent phases.
- Erectile dysfunction: a weakened pelvic floor can negatively impact erectile function, orgasm dysfunction, or diminished sexual pleasure.
The role of the pelvic floor in male sexual dysfunctions
Male sexual dysfunctions are conditions that affect a man’s ability to have a satisfying sexual life. These dysfunctions can manifest in various ways and may have physical, psychological, or a combination of causes. The pelvic floor also plays an essential role in male sexuality, and in the presence of dysfunctions, debilitating issues can arise:
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED, also known as impotence, is a condition where a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection sufficient for satisfying sexual activity.
- Premature ejaculation: a condition in which a man ejaculates earlier than desired during sexual activity.
- Delayed ejaculation: in contrast to premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation occurs when a man has difficulty reaching orgasm, even when sexually aroused.
- Anorgasmia: this condition involves the inability to achieve orgasm, even with an existing erection.
Also men should train their pelvic floor!
Fortunately, there are several solutions to address male pelvic floor issues:
- Pelvic floor exercises: Kegel exercises, involving the contraction and relaxation of pelvic floor muscles, are excellent allies in strengthening this area.
- Pelvic floor dilators: devices that provide effective and targeted training to the muscles of the anorectal region, promoting functional recovery.
- Physical therapy: a specialized pelvic rehabilitation physiotherapist can work to improve pelvic floor function through specific exercises and reeducation techniques.
- Medical or surgical treatments: in some cases, medical treatments such as medications or surgical interventions may be necessary to address more serious problems.
- Lifestyle changes: maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding tobacco, and moderating alcohol consumption can help prevent pelvic floor problems.
- Sexual counseling: for men facing sexual issues related to the pelvic floor, sexual counseling can be a valuable resource not only for the individual but also for the couple. Sexual counseling addresses not only concerns but also individual or couples’ dissatisfaction, desires, and needs.
The contents of this page are for informational use only and in no case should they replace the opinion, diagnosis or treatment prescribed by your doctor. The response to the same treatment can vary from one patient to another. Always consult with your doctor on any information relating to diagnosis and treatment and scrupulously follow his instructions.