Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem among men that tends to increase in prevalent with age. It’s estimated that approximately 50% of men over 40 experience some degree of ED, whether it's the inability to get or maintain an erection. Physical causes include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity, while psychological causes include stress, anxiety, and depression. On the other hand, lifestyle factors can also cause it, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise. While several factors can contribute to ED, one often overlooked is the role of the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. These muscles are crucial in sexual function, controlling ejaculation and orgasm. In addition, the pelvic floor muscles help to maintain erectile rigidity during sexual activity. The pelvic floor muscles are located between the pubic bone and the tailbone, forming a sling-like structure that supports the pelvic organs. A weak pelvic floor is a possible cause of ED, but the link between the two is often hard to determine. For this reason, we will discuss the details in this article.
What happens if you have pelvic floor issues?
When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, they can lead to several problems, including urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and an overactive bladder. In addition, a weak or overactive pelvic floor can also lead to sexual dysfunction in men.
An overactive pelvic floor is when the pelvic floor muscles are too tight and tense, which can cause pain and discomfort during sexual activity. This can make it difficult to achieve an erection or to maintain an erection long enough for sexual intercourse.
Moreover, a weak pelvic floor can make it difficult to keep the proper amount of blood flow in the penis, thereby making it hard to get or maintain an erection. A weak pelvic floor also contributes to lower back pain, hip pain, and poor posture, and even difficulty with bowel movements.
How to fix pelvic floor issues
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, can help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve sexual function. Some of these exercises can be coordinated with breathing to either strengthen or relax the pelvic floor muscles.
Breathing exercises can help to relax the pelvic floor muscles and reduce tension. To do these exercises, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath through your nose, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. As you exhale, imagine that you are letting go of any tension in your pelvic floor muscles.
Stretching exercises can help to lengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve flexibility. There are various yoga poses like Child’s Pose, Yogi Squat, or Happy Baby pose that help with releasing tension from your pelvic floor.
Body scanning exercises can help improve pelvic floor muscle awareness and reduce tension. To do this, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, focus on your pelvic floor muscles and try to relax them as much as possible. Scan your body from head to toe, and try to release all tension.
Getting yourself checked for erectile dysfunction
If you are experiencing symptoms of erectile dysfunction, it's recommended to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can perform a physical exam and run tests to determine the underlying cause of your ED. They may refer you to a pelvic floor specialist depending on your specific issues for more in-depth and supervised treatments like biofeedback training, manual manipulation, or myofascial release.
However, it’s important to note that ED can result from a combination of things including pelvic floor dysfunction and other factors like physical issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease to psychological factors such as stress or anxiety.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as exercise, a healthier diet, and quitting smoking. Various ED treatments are available, including medications, injections, and implants. Talking to your doctor can help you find the proper treatment to improve your sexual health and overall well-being.
The pelvic floor muscles play a critical role in sexual function, and a weak or tight pelvic floor can lead to different problems, including erectile dysfunction. To this end, it’s best to incorporate pelvic floor exercises to strengthen these muscles. Getting checked for ED is also an excellent measure to rule out any underlying health conditions, so you can look forward to a healthy sex life, so talk to your doctor about any concerns and follow their recommendations for treatment and lifestyle changes.