How pelvic floor exercises for men can strengthen the key muscles which support the bladder and bowel and improve erectile dysfunction.
Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) and words by Claire Chamberlain
Strong pelvic floor muscles have long been recognised as a key component of women’s health. But did you know that exercising this area is also important for men too?
So, what are pelvic floor exercises, how do you do them, what are the benefits and how soon might you see an improvement? We speak to Dr Earim Chaudry, medical director at men’s wellbeing platform, Manual about the benefits of pelvic floor exercises for men:
Kegel exercises and sexual function
Erectile dysfunction can be an uncomfortable subject for many men, but with approximately one in 10 men estimated to suffer with the problem, open discussion is important. Of course, that often doesn’t make it any easier to talk about, and men are more likely to admit they have sexual function problems when surveyed anonymously online.
Erectile dysfunction, the most common symptom of which is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection, can occur for a number of reasons:
- Mental health issues, such as depression
- Cardiovascular problems
- Taking certain medications, such as diuretics and antidepressants
While the most well known solution is to turn to medical interventions, such as medications like Viagra, what if there was a natural, drug-free alternative, which offered the same results? Step in pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels.
Kegel exercise benefits for men
A study carried out at the University of the West of England found that pelvic floor exercises helped 40 per cent of participants regain normal erectile function, and helped an additional 33.5 per cent significantly improve their erectile function.
Pelvic floor exercises can improve erectile function and help with premature ejaculation and dribbling after urination.
What’s more, researchers found that Kegel exercises not only improved erectile function, but also helped with premature ejaculation and ‘dribbling’ after urination. The study went on to recommend that pelvic floor exercises should be the first-line approach for men seeking long-term resolution of their erectile dysfunction.
Where is the pelvic floor in men?
There’s so much talk about the pelvic floor when it comes to women’s health – but what about in men? Is the pelvic floor the same and, if so, where is it?
‘A man’s pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscle and various other tissues that stretch like a hammock from the tailbone to the pubic bone,’ explains Dr Chaudry. ‘A man’s pelvic floor muscles support his bladder and bowel. The urine tube and the back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles.’
Aren’t Kegel exercises just for women?
Not so, reveals Dr Chaudry. ‘Pelvic floor exercises are certainly not just beneficial for women!’ he says. ‘Widely known as Kegels, pelvic floor exercises for men can strengthen the key muscles which support the bladder, bowel and affect sexual function including erections.’
Pelvic floor exercises for men can strengthen the key muscles which support the bladder, bowel and affect sexual function.
But Kegels are the most beneficial for erectile dysfunction. ‘They target the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis, particularly one called the pubococcygeus,’ adds Dr Chaudry. ‘This loops from the pubic bone to the tailbone and supports the pelvic organs. When the pubococcygeus weakens, it’s unable to prevent blood from flowing out of the erect penis, making erections more difficult to maintain.’
Why you should work on your pelvic floor
A weak pelvic floor can lead to a number of health concerns for men. According to Dr Chaudry, some of the most common causes of weak pelvic floor muscles can include surgery for prostate cancer, bladder or bowel problems, constipation and heavy lifting.
But how can you tell if your pelvic floor is underperforming? Common symptoms include erection difficulties and leaking urine during unexpected moments, such as when you’re coughing, laughing or sneezing
But don’t panic! ‘Thankfully there are plenty of exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor.’ says Dr Chaudry. ‘Kegel exercises in men can help you improve – and in some cases completely regain – bladder control and also help support stronger erections.’
How to do Kegel exercises for men
Once you’ve located the right muscles to target, Kegels are very easy to do. Follow the instructions outlined by Dr Chaudry:
✔️ One of the easiest ways to locate your muscles is while you’re urinating.
✔️ Halfway through urination, try to stop or slow down the flow of urine.
✔️ When you can slow or stop the flow of urine, you’ve successfully located these muscles.
✔️ Once you’ve successfully located these muscles, contract for a slow count of five. Then, release the muscles to a slow count of five.
✔️ Repeat 10 times. Do a set of 10 Kegels daily, three times a day.
✔️ In time, you can increase the time you’re contracting the muscles for a slow count of five to a slow count of up to 10 seconds.
✔️ Also, doing the exercises standing up will put more weight on the muscles and improve your control.
Improvements after Kegel exercises
If you’ve been struggling with erectile dysfunction and/or bladder control, it can be easy to feel impatient and expect results instantly. So when should you realistically expect to see results?
‘As with all exercises, practice makes perfect and progress takes time,’ says Dr Chaudry. ‘If you stick to a regimen of three times a day, you should see better results in six weeks – some men see improvements even sooner. So don’t give up – and keep it consistent.’