Why Men Should Care More About Their Pelvic Floor Fitness
Dr. Edythe Heus
May 28, 2024

Imagine someone doing kegels. Now hold that thought, and let me ask: who do you think is performing the exercise?

I’d be willing to bet that 99% of you imagined a woman. And understandably so. Most people are unaware that men even have a pelvic floor, let alone what the body part does for them.

This reality is a shame, considering that the pelvic floor influences everything from our breathing to our mood. Not to mention, the urinary and sexual problems prevalent among males are preventable and treatable with pelvic floor fitness.

But before you close this page and look up how to do kegels, make sure to read until the end to find out the best way to exercise your pelvic floor.

About the Male Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is made up of three layers of muscles and fascia attached to your pelvis. It is located at the bottom of the abdominopelvic complex. You can read more about its anatomy here.

The male and female pelvic floor are fundamentally similar. They both control the bowel and bladder. Both also contribute to sexual pleasure and the movement of energy in the body.

There are however, a few anatomical and functional differences. These dissimilarities mostly stem from the possibility of childbirth for those assigned female at birth.

For a shorter and easier passage of the baby, women tend to have a wider and shallower pelvis. Their pelvic floors are also designed for flexibility. The lack of tone in their muscles and connective tissue predisposes them to have a weaker (hypotonic) pelvic floor.

Meanwhile, men have a narrower and deeper pelvis and thicker pelvic floor muscles. That’s because their pelvic floors are designed for strength. As a result, they tend to have a tighter (hypertonic) pelvic floor. Studies have shown that men with symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction struggle to relax this area of their body.

Signs That You Urgently Need Pelvic Floor Fitness

If you experience the following symptoms, I would advise you to prioritize adopting a pelvic floor fitness regimen:

  • constipation
  • inability to control your bladder or bowel
  • pain during urination or defecation
  • pain during sex or difficulty achieving orgasm
  • premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction
  • lower back or hip problems
  • feeling pins and needles or numbness

It’s also important for individuals who are predisposed to pelvic floor dysfunction to start working out their pelvic floor now. There are certain factors that can cause the pelvic floor muscles and fascia to weaken over time. These include:

  • persistent cough,
  • diabetes,
  • lifting heavy weights,
  • routinely performing high-impact exercises, or
  • undergoing pelvic surgery

A pelvic floor fitness routine will greatly alleviate pain and discomfort and prevent you from experiencing them down the line.

But even if you don’t have any of the aforementioned symptoms, there are still many merits to adopting a pelvic floor fitness routine now.

What are the Benefits of Pelvic Floor Fitness for Men?

Enhanced Sexual Performance and Pleasure

Issues in the bedroom, such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, are prevalent among men. Sadly, these problems persist outside the bedroom, as they are linked to reduced quality of life and interpersonal relationships. 

Most research existing to solve male sexual dysfunction focuses on hormonal, neurologic, and vascular factors. Sexual pleasure does occur due to a complex interplay between these systems. However, there is one body part that the medical field has neglected to consider: the pelvic floor.

The topmost pelvic floor muscles, the bulbospongiosus and ischiocavernosus, play a significant role in initiating and maintaining an erection. Contraction of these muscles also facilitates ejaculation and intensifies orgasms.

Having too much tone in these muscles hampers corporal veno-occlusive function, the process that enables blood to stay in the penis for it to expand and become erect. On the other hand, a lack of tone alters muscular contraction, which is important for controlling ejaculation.

Training the pelvic floor gives it the right tone, fixing the muscular issues associated with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. A number of studies have shown this result, with men reporting greater ejaculatory control and penile rigidity after a pelvic floor exercise intervention.

Improved Athletic Performance

By now, you’re probably aware that a strong and stable core is crucial to success in any sport. But did you also know that the pelvic floor is a part of your core? The pelvic floor is literally the foundation of your abdominopelvic complex.

It plays a collaborative role with the rest of your abdominal muscles to maintain the integrity of your core. They contract ever so slightly to stiffen up your core, making the transfer of force from your lower to upper body much more efficient and impactful.

The pelvic floor also helps absorb impact whenever you walk, run, or jump—much like a car suspension system. Having the right tone in your pelvic floor will make your movements much more explosive. I can not think of any sport that will not benefit from this boost in power.

In many Eastern traditions, the pelvic floor is recognized as a primary promoter of energy flow. That’s unsurprising given its vital role in full-body breathing and cerebral spinal fluid movement. When the pelvic floor is in great health, you will experience better physical, emotional, and mental health.

Bladder and Bowel Control

Nocturia and incontinence are issues familiar to most older men. That’s because the bladder loses its elasticity and strength with age. The prostate, which plays a role in controlling your urine flow, is also commonly removed among older men to treat prostate cancer. Not to mention, the surgery causes damage to your pelvic floor fascia and nerves.

But just because they are prevalent does not mean they are inevitable. With the right pelvic floor exercises, you can remain in control of your bladder well into your senior years.

Activation of the pelvic floor muscles strengthens the external urethral sphincter, the voluntary muscle controlling the exit of urine. Pelvic floor workouts also reduce episodes of urinary incontinence post-prostate removal. The therapeutic effect is evident in both the early and late stages of recovery.

The Best Exercises for Your Pelvic Floor

I’m glad you stayed until the end of the blog to understand why I don’t advocate for Kegels (and other pelvic floor exercises).

First of all, they only focus on the muscles of the pelvic floor and fail to target the connective tissue that holds it together. Secondly, it’s difficult to ascertain if you’re actually contracting the correct muscles when performing these workouts in the first place. And if you have a hypertonic pelvic floor (which is often the case for men!), these exercises will only exacerbate your condition.

In my experience, the best pelvic floor program is one that considers the pelvic floor as continuous with the rest of the body. It doesn’t operate alone, but instead also communicates with the feet, diaphragm, and top of the head. Rev6 Pelvic Floor Fitness involves whole body exercises that stimulate the entire network of connective tissue associated with the pelvic floor.

The health of the pelvic floor is also closely tied to how well you breathe and vice versa. I speak more about this matter in this article. That’s why I incorporate deep, full-body breathing exercises in all Rev6 Pelvic Floor Fitness sequences.

In a Rev6 Pelvic Floor Fitness class, instead of squeezing or contracting your pelvic floor muscles, you’ll learn how to lengthen your pelvic floor structures correctly. This lengthening stimulates a rebound that is needed to achieve the right tone in your pelvic floor.

Rev6 Pelvic Floor Fitness classes are live-streamed twice weekly: Mondays and Wednesdays at 4 PM. Replay classes are also available for those who cannot attend live. Here, you’ll find several ways to join our workouts and reap the benefits of a healthy pelvic floor.

Sources:

Myers, C., & Smith, M. (2019). Pelvic floor muscle training improves erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 105(2), 235–243. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2019.01.002

Notenboom-Nas, F. J. M., Knol-de Vries, G. E., Slieker-Ten Hove, M. C. P., Dekker, J. H., Keuken, D. G., van Koeveringe, G. A., & Blanker, M. H. (2023). Comparing male and female pelvic floor muscle function by the number and type of pelvic floor symptoms. Neurourology and urodynamics, 42(4), 875–885. https://doi.org/10.1002/nau.25149

Rodas, M. C. & García-Perdomo, H.A. (2018). From Kegel exercises to pelvic floor rehabilitation: A physiotherapeutic perspective. Rev Mex Urol, 78(5), 402-411.

Rosenbaum T. Y. (2007). Pelvic floor involvement in male and female sexual dysfunction and the role of pelvic floor rehabilitation in treatment: a literature review. The journal of sexual medicine, 4(1), 4–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00393.x

Stansfield, E., Mitteroecker, P., Umek, W., & Fischer, B. (2023). The variation in shape and thickness of the pelvic floor musculature in males and females: a geometric-morphometric analysis. International urogynecology journal, 34(2), 453–461. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-022-05311-5

Wu, M. L., Wang, C. S., Xiao, Q., Peng, C. H., & Zeng, T. Y. (2019). The therapeutic effect of pelvic floor muscle exercise on urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy: a meta-analysis. Asian journal of andrology, 21(2), 170–176. https://doi.org/10.4103/aja.aja_89_18

Yani, M. S., Eckel, S. P., Kirages, D. J., Rodriguez, L. V., Corcos, D. M., & Kutch, J. J. (2022). Impaired Ability to Relax Pelvic Floor Muscles in Men With Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Physical therapy, 102(7), pzac059. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/pzac059