If you or someone you love has a penis, you’ve come to the right place. Pelvic health physical therapy is commonly misunderstood as a niche only for people who are or who have been pregnant and is often seen by the public as a “women’s health” topic. While the perinatal population has done a lot to push pelvic health into the spotlight in recent years, and while there are many practitioners who prefer to work only with anatomical females…there is a rightful place for penis-owners in this realm of health. All humans have a pelvis, and all humans have a pelvic floor. Anatomical males experiencing issues “down there” typically feel that they have few options, so I’m here to set the record straight. Here are 5 reasons why a penis-owner may find themselves in need of pelvic physical therapy.
Top Reasons to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist
- Prostate Issues: The prostate is a structure unique to anatomical males, and over the course of a lifetime it can create some problems. According to the NIH, prostatitis is the most common urinary tract issue for men under the age of 50; an enlarged prostate (or benign prostatic hyperplasia — BPH) affects about half of men aged 51-60 and up to 90% of men older than 80. Furthermore, the CDC cites prostate cancer as the second most common cancer among men in the US. Pelvic floor PT can be helpful in managing some pain and discomfort involved with prostate issues.
- Constipation: Everybody poops, and statistics indicate that many of us are not having a great time with it. This is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) complaint in the US, and males are certainly no exception. The pelvic floor and GI system are intimately related: the pelvic floor quite literally creates the outlet for the digestive tract. If the pelvic floor has trouble relaxing for any reason, poop is just going to get stuck waiting at the exit since there is nowhere else for it to go. Pelvic floor PT can help to assess and address any excess tension, as well as educate in healthy bowel habits and routines.
- Pain: This one is quite broad, and that’s because the pelvis is such a dynamic area of our bodies. So aside from “pelvic pain” which could include pain at the penis, testicles, scrotum, or rectum, pain related to pelvic floor dysfunction may present in the groin, lower abdomen, inner thigh, hip, or low back. Oftentimes, men will find some relief with typical orthopedic PT, but may find that these issues are not fully resolving or may become more chronic over time. If you are someone that has chronic hip or back pain, for example, but you also have a history of hernias, GI issues, or constipation, you may actually have an underlying pelvic floor dysfunction that is contributing to your symptoms!
- Urinary Leakage, Frequency, or Urgency: Let’s go back to anatomy for this one. Anatomical males have a long urethra, the tube that allows urine to flow from the bladder, that goes through a 90-degree angle (thus, kinking the tube a bit), and it is partially supported by the prostate. Removal of the prostate can create issues with incontinence in up to 10% of males. And while it is less common for males to have issues with incontinence otherwise, it is still a very real issue for some. Physical therapy can help to reduce or better manage these complaints through various techniques based on an individual’s specific presentation.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) has been reported to affect up to 50% of males at some point in their lifespan. It can be very complex, and generally, a multidisciplinary approach is the most effective for treatment. Physical therapy can help to address any potential underlying pelvic floor dysfunction, but it is also important to address certain medical conditions or medications, lifestyle and diet habits, and/or psychological factors such as stress, relationship dynamics, and sexual beliefs.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can slowly begin to impact your daily life. If you or someone you know is experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, contact your local pelvic floor therapist today.