Prostate Health: A Guide To Performing Kegel Exercises For Men
Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that may be weakened during prostate cancer treatment. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located under the bladder. It surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube where urine travels from the bladder and through the penis.
The muscles that surround the prostate gland include the sphincter muscle, the muscle responsible for opening and closing the urethra, and the pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder and control urine flow.
Incontinence (urine leakage) is a common side effect of prostate cancer treatment, including prostatectomy and radiation therapy. The pelvic floor muscles are in close proximity to the prostate. Any tissue changes surrounding this area can lead to urinary and fecal incontinence, which is typically at its worst as the body heals and inflammation settles soon after treatment. Furthermore, the patient may develop deep scar tissue which affects the pelvic floor, leading to long-term changes in the structure and function of the muscles.
The Benefits of Doing Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are recommended before and after treatment to strengthen these muscles and help control urine flow.
Kegel exercises are easy and convenient to do, as they only take a few minutes per day. They can be an effective way to control incontinence without medication or surgery. Some men report a reduction in urine leakage and an improvement in urine control, which can have a positive impact on their quality of life and self-esteem.
It’s important to note that every patient is different and the results of doing kegel exercises vary. Additionally, incontinence is a side effect of some but not all prostate cancer treatments.
How To Do Kegel Exercises
First, locate your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this by mimicking how you would stop urinating midstream and paying attention to the muscles that activate. Next, follow this step-by-step guide:
- ‘Squeeze’ and hold your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, being sure not to hold your breath.
- Be mindful about the muscles you’re using and don’t tighten your abs, butt, or thigh muscles. Focus only on squeezing the pelvic muscles together tightly.
- Release and relax for a few seconds and repeat.
You have just completed one kegel exercise. Ideally, you’ll want to do 20 kegel exercises 3-4 times a day. You may not be able to complete 20 at first but remember, just like any muscle, you’ll need to consistently train the pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them.
If you’re concerned about the side effects of prostate-related treatment, speak with your doctor about your options.