So last weekend I attended a Male Pelvic Health course, in Sligo University Hospital, hosted by Gerard Greene. The 2-day course was hugely informative and the knowledge I gained I’m sure will be invaluable to me as my career progresses. It was shocking to me how many men suffer with pelvic pain. I remember a previous patient of mine was shocked when I told them that men have a pelvic floor, the same as women do! Dysfunction with this intricate group of muscles can lead to urinary problems, bowel problems, and sexual problems. And the great thing was that a lot of these symptoms can be helped!
I understand how humiliating it can be suffering from these problems and perhaps that’s the reason why there aren’t many men looking for treatment or assessment in this area, compared to the number of women that do. For example, the GP will commonly check the prostate once you reach a certain age. A common misconception is that to check for prostate cancer, an internal exam is 100% necessary. But a simple blood test can check for this, so the fear of an internal exam absolutely should not stop you from getting this checked. And it isn’t all that bad!
As part of the course, we learned about internal male pelvic floor anatomy and practiced internal assessments on each other, so I can empathize with men, it’s not something we’re used to or comfortable with and something we can be absolutely terrified of. But hey, it’s not as bad as what you think. It’s incredible the number of men that can be helped with the right assessment, treatment, and management. Most men feel an internal exam is a given at a physio session for pelvic pain, but this isn’t the case. A lot of normal, standard external assessments can be carried out and obviously, we would need your consent, so please DON’T let the thoughts of an internal exam put you off coming for help.
I understand your frustrations. Many men have had a lot of investigations done, from bloods to colonoscopies and so on. And they’ve been told they’re clear – but they have pain and don’t understand what’s going on. Firstly, it’s really great that these scans are clear, but there is something causing your problem. Our job is to figure out what that is and explain this to you. The group of pelvic floor muscles can contribute massively to your symptoms. By helping this, you can relieve your symptoms.
I learned of the men post prostate surgery and that by removing the prostate (which acts like a tap that helps turn on/off the flow of urine) the tap-like function is lost. As a result, it is a given to have urine leakage and commonly have erectile problems, and this can lead to poor mental health – anxiety, low mood, depression, and anger. These physical issues can be retrained and helped, and the role of the physio is vital in this regard – for education, advise, manual therapy and exercise based rehab.
The course showed me how much a physio can help men which pelvic issues. I am hoping to assess and treat more men in this area and I really wanted to get a blog out there to tell men that physiotherapy can help your issues. My colleague Vivienne is a pelvic health specialist and has treated many men and women with pelvic issues – but far more women than men. We know you guys are out there, suffering from these problems. Please get in touch with us so we can help you all. Don’t go on in silence.
Yours in Health,