What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is a male sexual disorder characterised by the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. The condition can cause stress, loss of confidence, and relationship issues with your partner.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by a combination of physical factors such as heart disease, clogged blood vessels, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, prostate enlargement, sleep disorders, certain medications, and psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
How does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Benefit Erectile Dysfunction?
Special pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as Kegel exercises, can benefit men with erectile dysfunction by strengthening the muscles in the perineal area, the space between the genitals and anus, which play a role in male sexual response. These muscles help with engorgement of blood in the penis to cause an erection, provide stiffness to the penis during the rigid phase of erection, and to forcefully propel semen during ejaculation.
Identifying Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop and start your stream while urinating at the toilet. The muscles that you need to contract to stop urinating midstream are your pelvic floor muscles. Another method to identify your pelvic floor muscles is to try contracting the muscles around your anus, like you are holding back on having a bowel movement. Here too, the pelvic floor muscles are engaged.
Basic Kegel Exercise
You can now start the Kegel exercise by focusing on getting the same contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (when not urinating) and then holding the contraction for 5 seconds. Do about 10 repetitions, taking the time to fully relax between each repetition. The exercise can be done while standing, sitting, or lying down. Don’t use your stomach or gluteal muscles or hold your breath when doing the exercise. Progressively increase your repetitions until you can do 20 repetitions 3 times a day.
Outcomes of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Depending on the cause and the severity of the erectile dysfunction, regularly doing Kegel exercises for a few weeks or months, along with other pelvic floor physical therapy treatments as recommended, may be sufficient to reduce or eliminate your symptoms.