According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, erectile dysfunction is a very common disorder and the incidence and prevalence increases with age. However, despite being associated with older men, erectile dysfunction is also present in younger men. Recent studies have shown that there is growing incidence of erectile dysfunction in men younger than 40 years of age.
It is well known that some conditions can be a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity and major pelvic surgery or radiotherapy.
In addition, conditions such as Peyronie's disease, penile or prostate cancer, endocrine diseases and psychogenic conditions such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder can also be risk factors for erectile dysfunction.
Can problems with the pelvic floor muscles cause erectile dysfunction?
Issues with the function of male pelvic floor muscles is a lesser known risk factor for erectile dysfunction.
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles located between the tailbone and the pubic bone. They contract and relax voluntarily and involuntarily to offer support to the pelvis and pelvic organs, which assists with functions such as the control of the bladder and bowel and helps with sexual function.
The pelvic floor muscles work like any other skeletal muscles in the body and they can become weak, painful, overactive and develop problems which affects muscle coordination.
In men when the pelvic floor muscles become dysfunctional the following symptoms can be experienced:
- Difficulties fully emptying the bladder or bowel and/or pain associated with these functions
- Leakages of urine and/or stools
- A feeling of urgency or having to rush to the toilet due to difficulty holding urine and stools.
- Chronic pelvic pain and pressure felt in the area of the abdomen, penis, testicles or rectum and/or symptoms of prostatitis in the absence of an infection
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection and/or discomfort during/after ejaculation
- Reduced sensation during climax
How can pelvic health physiotherapy help?
Pelvic health or men’s health physiotherapy use a set of strategies including biofeedback and exercises to help improve the function and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles.
Evidence has shown that pelvic floor muscle exercises are significantly effective for some men with erectile dysfunction. To obtain the full benefits, pelvic floor muscle exercises should be taught by a pelvic health physiotherapist to ensure that the exercises are being done correctly and to prevent further problems.
At the London Clinic we have a team of specialists such as pelvic health and chronic pain physiotherapists, urologists, andrologists, psychologists and nurse specialists who are able to support patients struggling with these symptoms.
If you need to see a physiotherapist Lizzy Marcroft and Marta De Oliveira are our specialist pelvic health physiotherapists and Davide Lanfranco is our specialist physiotherapist in persistent pain who will be able to support you should you have any questions or need to start your treatment. Get in touch with The London Clinic to find out more.
Read about all the Physiotherapy treatments on offer at The London Clinic.