What can go wrong with your pelvic floor muscles?
A number of things can cause PFMs to become lax:
- Heavy lifting
- High impact exercise
- Prostatectomy or prostate surgery for men
- Pregnancy and childbirth for women
- Straining caused by chronic constipation
- Chronic coughing
No matter your sex or the cause, weak PFMs can negatively affect your quality of life and keep you from the people and events you enjoy. Avoiding physical and social activities has its own negative consequences, such as weight gain and depression.
What happens when PFMs are weak?
The most familiar symptom of weak PFMs is incontinence, occurring more often in women, but these muscles also have a role in sexual function, particularly for men. Strong PFMs are important for erectile dysfunciton and ejaculation.
Men have two additional muscles considered part of their pelvic floor — the ischiocavernosus and the bulbospongiosus muscles — that attach to and support the penis. The physiological mechanisms of male sexual functioning are complex and beyond the scope of this article, but there is plenty of evidence that pelvic floor dysfunction and sexual dysfunction can be related, and research is ongoing.
February 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN