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According to Dr. Reutter, the pelvic floor consists of a network of muscles that act as a “sling” to support the pelvic floor organs (the prostate, bladder, rectum and seminal vesicles), stabilize the connecting joints and assist in bladder, bowel and sexual function. Unlike the muscles you see when you hit the gym, these muscles are mostly internal and (hopefully) not visible to the general public. But they are critical to your everyday function and easily affected by stress, sleep, and other lifestyle factors.
Dr. Reutter adds that working from home, stress, uncertainty, sitting, lack of exercise, and lack of social connection contribute to any of these symptoms.
In addition to breath work, Dr. Reutter suggests you take warm baths, increase aerobic activity (which increases endorphin levels, the body’s natural painkiller) and avoid prolonged sitting on hard surfaces to help relax the pelvic floor and mitigate symptoms.
Dr. Reutter and Dr. Weber go deep on a few common conditions below. If you are experiencing the symptoms described here, reach out to one of these experts to help determine the true cause of your symptoms and whether or not there is more you can do. If not addressed, your pelvic pain could have a large range of effects, from reducing your ability to produce power during your workout to impacting you emotionally and socially.
The prostate is a small gland located directly below the bladder that enlarges over time. According to Dr. Reutter, prostatitis consists of swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland. This gland secretes a fluid that helps constitute semen or seminal fluid. Prostatitis can be bacterial or non-bacterial. Non-bacterial prostatitis is more common form and can be due to nerve irritation, chemical irritation, stress, and often a weak or spastic pelvic floor. Symptoms normally include painful urination, pain w ejaculation, and pain in the groin, genitals, and pelvic floor.
Levator Ani Syndrome
The levator ani is one of the muscles of your pelvic floor. It is primarily responsible for preventing urinary incontinence and supporting the pelvic organs. Dr. Reutter explains that this syndrome can be due to chronically contracted pelvic floor muscles.
Symptoms often present as pain in the rectum resulting in an “achy” feeling during and after intercourse, pain with bowel movements, constipation, and/or a feeling of rectal “fullness” or pain. Dr. Reutter notes: “Patients often describe a feeling of a ‘golf ball’ or similar in the rectum.” He adds that stress, anxiety, chronic constipation, a history of hemorrhoids, anal fissure, and prior colorectal surgery are all causes of levator ani syndrome.
View the original piece placement on Men’s Health.