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Men experience a variety of problems with their urinary system, leading to unwanted leakage of urine.
Some also have difficulty controlling wind or leakage from the bowels. Often this is due to a weakness of the muscles of the pelvic floor, which have an important function in preventing these troublesome conditions.
In particular, pelvic floor exercises have been shown to be effective following surgery on the prostate and when men experience a dribble after passing water.
The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues stretching from side to side like a hammock and attached to your tail bone (coccyx) at the back and to the pubic bone in front. The urethra (bladder outlet) and the rectum (back passage) pass through the pelvic floor muscles. The hammock of muscle supports the bladder and the bowel and plays an important role in bladder and bowel control.
The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by:
Although there is no research evidence, it is thought by many that lack of general fitness and persistent heavy lifting tend to result in weakening of the pelvic floor.
Neurological damage (e.g., after a stroke or spinal injury, or resulting from multiple sclerosis or other conditions) can also produce poor pelvic muscle function. People in this group need to seek advice from a healthcare professional.
You can improve control of your bladder and bowel by doing exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises may also be useful in conjunction with a bladder retraining programme aimed at improving bladder control in people who experience the urgent need to pass urine frequently and may not always ‘make it in time’.
The first thing to do is to identify correctly the muscles that need to be exercised.
You can do this ‘for real’ if you wish, but do so only to learn which muscles are the correct ones to use: do not make a practice of it or it may interfere with normal bladder emptying. You must relax when you are passing urine to ensure you empty your bladder.
If you are unable to feel a definite squeeze and lift action of your pelvic floor muscles (or are unable to even slow the stream of urine as described in point 3), you should seek professional help to get your pelvic floor muscles working correctly. Even men with very weak pelvic floor muscles can be taught these exercises by a physiotherapist or continence advisor with expertise in this area.
Now that you can feel the muscles working, you can start to exercise them:
While doing the exercises:
DO NOT hold your breath.
DO NOT push down instead of squeezing and lifting up.
DO NOT tighten your tummy, buttocks or thighs.
Do your exercises well. The quality is important. Fewer good exercises will be more beneficial than many half-hearted ones.
Once you have learnt how to do these exercises, they should be done regularly, giving each set your full attention. It might be helpful to have at least five regular times during the day for doing the exercises – for example, after going to the toilet, when having a drink, when lying in bed. You will wish to tighten your pelvic floor muscles also while you are getting up from a chair, coughing or lifting. Some men find that by tightening before they undertake such activities they assist themselves in regaining control.
Good results take time. In order to build up your pelvic floor muscles to their maximum strength you will need to work hard at these exercises. You will probably not notice an improvement for several weeks and you will not reach your maximum performance for a few months.
When you have recovered control of your bladder or bowel you should continue doing the exercises twice a day for life.
The Urology Nursing Team 01444 441881 Extension 65457.
Mr Nawrocki’s secretary 01444 441881 Extension 65962.
Mr Coker’s secretary 01444 441881 Extension 68043.
Mr Crawford’s secretary 01444 441881 Extension 65962.
Mr Symes’ secretary 01273 696955 Extension 67809.
Mr Larner’s secretary 01273 696955 Extension 67808.
Mr Alanbuki’s secretary 01273 696955 Extension 67810.
Mr Zakikhani’s secretary 01273 696955 Extension 67809.
The Continence Foundation provides leaflets and information
307 Hatton Square
16 Baldwins Gardens
London EC1N 7R
Telephone 0207 404 6875
Brighton and Hove Advisory Team
Telephone 01273 265912
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: September 2021
Review Date: June 2024