Breaking the Silence: The Significance of Men's Pelvic Health
As we enter the month of November, a time dedicated to raising awareness about men's health issues, we want to shed light on a topic that often remains in the shadows: Men's Pelvic Health. While you might have seen our participation in a Movember campaign to raise awareness through moustaches, conversations about mental health and prostate cancer, there's a vital aspect of men's health that deserves attention—pelvic health.
Understanding Men's Pelvic Health
Pelvic health is a topic that has historically been overlooked in men’s healthcare, however, recent research and increased awareness have started to break down the barriers surrounding this critical aspect of men’s well-being. Men, too, have a pelvic floor—a group of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that form a supportive hammock-like structure at the base of the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles are an essential part of human anatomy that serve several important functions. The pelvic floor supports our pelvic organs, controls bowel and bladder continence, maintains stability for the pelvis and lower back as an integral part of our core, and plays a large role in sexual function. Pelvic floor dysfunction in men can manifest in various ways including erectile dysfunction, pelvic pain, and post-prostatectomy incontinence.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual activity. It is a common condition that affects a significant number of men, which can have a large impact on one’s overall health and wellness. While ED is a complex condition with various potential causes, pelvic floor muscle function is often overlooked. The pelvic floor muscles, which may not typically be associated with sexual function, play a pivotal role in regulating blood flow and maintaining erectile function. When these muscles become tense or weakened due to factors such as injury, stress, or muscle imbalances, it can contribute to ED. Increasing evidence suggests that pelvic floor exercises and manual therapy can improve erectile dysfunction in males and a pelvic health physiotherapist should be included in a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
Male Pelvic Pain
Male pelvic pain, also known as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) or male pelvic pain syndrome, is a condition characterized by persistent or recurring pain in the pelvic area, typically between the rectum and the base of the penis. This pain may be accompanied by a range of urinary, sexual, and bowel symptoms. The exact cause of male pelvic pain is often unclear, and it can be a challenging condition to diagnose and treat requiring collaborative interdisciplinary management. Our role as pelvic health physiotherapists includes a comprehensive assessment to determine if the muscles, nerves and connective tissue of the pelvic region are contributing to your pain. A multifaceted treatment approach including manual therapy, targeted exercises to improve mobility and strength of the pelvic floor muscles, biofeedback, pain management and education is integral in helping our patients improve pelvic floor muscle function, reduce pain, improve associated symptoms, and enhance overall quality of life.
Prostate cancer is a prevalent concern among men, and prostatectomy, the surgical removal of the prostate gland, is one of the primary treatment options. While this procedure can be life-saving, it often results in side effects that can significantly impact a man's quality of life. The most common side effects being post-prostatectomy incontinence (PPI) and erectile dysfunction. Pelvic health physiotherapists are well-versed in the challenges faced by men following surgery and an individualized pelvic floor rehabilitation is important in your recovery. Programs typically include exercises aimed at strengthening pelvic floor muscles, techniques to improve bladder control, and addressing any discomfort or pain. The evidence demonstrates that pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is effective in managing urinary incontinence following a radical prostatectomy, and newer research suggests that preoperative PFMT may enhance post-surgical measures of pelvic floor function, reduce PPI and improve quality of life. This specialized care is invaluable for men in their recovery, with the goal of empowering and helping you to regain control and confidence.
As healthcare professionals, we are passionate about empowering Albertans. Movember is a great venture because it encourages conversations about men's health. This conversation allows us to break down the barriers that have hindered men from seeking help for their pelvic health concerns. By raising awareness, providing a safe space for discussion, offering personalized treatment plans, collaborating with other healthcare providers, and fostering a supportive community, we are making significant strides in men's pelvic health. It's time to acknowledge that pelvic health is an essential aspect of overall well-being, and men should be encouraged to prioritize it. By doing so, we can ensure that men lead healthier, more fulfilling lives free from the limitations imposed by pelvic health issues.
Momentum Health & Evidence Sport and Spine practitioners are participating in a Movember campaign with the team name "The Therastaches". Check out our Movember team page here.
Kerry Worbets, PT, is one of only two Pelvic Health Physiotherapists in our group, and of very few in the city of Calgary, who has experience treating male pelvic health conditions.
Kerry graduated in 2014 from the University of Toronto with a Masters of Physical Therapy. She completed her Bachelors in Kinesiology from Acadia University in 2012, along with completing their Sports Injury Assessment and Management Program. Through this program she worked as an athletic therapist with the varsity men’s hockey team and the women’s soccer team where her passion for rehabilitation began. She has continued her pursuit in sport and is currently working as the lead physiotherapist for the Canadian Olympic Luge team. Through sport she has developed a special interest in concussion assessment and rehabilitation. Kerry is committed to further developing her knowledge and skills within the field of physiotherapy. She attended McMaster University for Contemporary Medical Acupuncture and is also certified in functional dry needling/IMS. She is continuing her education in Advanced Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy and has taken courses in assessing functional movement including the SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment). She has completed advanced training in pelvic floor rehabilitation and is joining the team at Evidence Sport and Spine as the Pelvic Health physiotherapist.
Kerry treats a broad variety of pelvic health dysfunctions in men and women including bowel and bladder incontinence, overactive bladder, constipation, pre- and post-natal conditions, pelvic organ prolapse, pre and post surgical patients, and chronic pelvic pain. Kerry approaches treatment in a holistic manner with a focus on education, exercise, hands-on manual therapy, and acupuncture.