Why should I exercise my Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen and tone the muscle whilst also increasing the blood flow to this region.
Strong or toned pelvic floor muscles can support the extra weight of pregnancy, help in the second stage of labour and, by increasing circulation, assist in healing the perineum between the anus and vagina after birth.
When done regularly and correctly pelvic floor exercises can help to prevent stress incontinence, bladder weakness and prolapse in later life.
Another benefit of carrying out your pelvic floor exercises is that toned pelvic floor muscles can provide women within a greater level of satisfaction during sex, enabling them to experience orgasm.
Exercising and maintaining the strength of your pelvic floor is also important in reducing the symptoms of incontinence.
If you are struggling to complete pelvic floor exercises on your own, you can try using a pelvic floor muscle stimulator.
Pelvic Floor Stimulators send a gentle electrical signal through a vaginal or anal probe which stimulates the pelvic floor muscle, therefore exercising it for you. Results can often be seen and felt in as little as 3 weeks.
To see our range of pelvic floor exercisers and stimulators, please click here.
Why do the instructions say that I cannot use pelvic floor exercisers if I have been diagnosed or treated for cervical cancer?
No research has been published showing the effect of electric current on malignant or pre-cancerous cells, so we cannot quantify the risk.
Current professional advice (see www.electrotherapy.org) is that electrotherapy should not be used through malignant tissue.
If you are unsure, please contact your medical advisor.
Why do I keep getting the ‘LEADS’ message on my Pelvic Floor Exerciser?
Resolving ‘LEADS’ Message on your Pelvic Floor Exerciser
There are 2 main reasons why you may be getting the ‘LEADS’ message on your control unit:
1. Fault in the lead wires or probe connections
An intermittent break in the lead, or the short lead attached to the probe, could be the cause of your LEAD fault. You can purchase a replacement set of leads via the ‘Accessories’ page.
2. You just aren’t the right shape for this probe
Peoples’ bodies vary. If there isn’t enough contact on the electrode plates the electric current cannot flow.
In this instance, you could try:
i) Using a water-based lubricant gel to improve the contact.
ii) Try using a different probe: The Liberty Plus is 4mm wider providing better contact for some women.
No sensation and LEADS alarm showing.
Check lead and probe connection:
Dampen your hand with water and a little table salt. Squeeze the probe firmly in your hand and carefully increase the strength until you can feel something or LEADS alarm shows.
a) If you CAN’T feel anything, either the lead or the unit is faulty
b) If you CAN feel something on your hand, and the LEADS alarm does NOT show, then there is nothing wrong with the unit or lead.
The electrical conductivity of the vagina varies widely. The LEAD detection circuit in the product is there as a safety feature to ensure any rapid changes in connection cannot cause very uncomfortable, rapid changes in stimulation.
unfortunately this means that some users, who fall outside of the general range, may experience unwanted LEADS alarms.
If you experience unwanted LEADS alarm, please try:
i) Using a water–based lubricant which will improve conduction
ii) Purchasing a larger probe: the Liberty Plus probe is 4mm wider than the standard Liberty probe
iii) Crossing your legs and squeezing to increase pressure on the probe, which should improve the connection. If this enables you to use the unit, you should find that in a few weeks of stimulation the contact improves.
If none of the above solves your issue, then we are sorry to say that the unit will not work for you.
No sensation and no LEADS alarm
If you have tried the test above and DO have sensation when the probe is in your hand, then you may have reduced sensitivity due to previously damaged or desensitized pudendal nerves (this can happen in childbirth or some surgical procedures).
Please contact your GP for advice.
No sensation on one side
The current flows from one side of the probe to other, so it is not possible to have one side “not working”.
However, the strength of the sensation depends on how close to the nerve the current flows and also in which direction it flows relative to the nerve.
You can try slightly adjusting the position of the probe, or exchanging the connection of the wires in the probe.
X-VP Liberty Vaginal probe 28mm
X-VPM Liberty Plus Vaginal Probe 32mm
L-ELGR Elise 2 Replacement Lead
X-ELISE2-USB Elise 2 USB Charging Cable
X-PR13 Anal probe
X-AP Liberty Probe Mini 25mm
TEN-01 Electrode pads 50x50mm
What strength should I use and how do I adjust the strength as my pelvic floor muscles improve?
The stronger the contraction, the more exercise you do and the faster the muscle will increase in strength. The sensory nerves are more sensitive than the motor nerves, so you will need to feel the stimulation quite strongly to be sure to exercise the muscle properly.
In principle, you should turn up the strength as high as you can stand it. You should at least feel the muscle start to pull upwards, this is a good level at which to start your first session. However, when you first start exercising any muscle strongly, you may get aches afterwards.
If you don’t work the muscles, you won’t get aches but you won’t get results either. When you are starting, it’s best to set the strength quite high, but limit the length of the session to five or ten minutes.
If you don’t get aches the next day, you can gradually increase the strength and duration. As the muscle strengthens you will find that you can increase strength and duration. If you set the strength much too high, you might strain a muscle and the discomfort could take several days to fade away.
People vary in sensitivity to electrostimulation – there are lots of variables that can affect what you feel – however most people won’t feel much below about 20.0, and some will use the maximum 99.5.
Before your first use, try moistening the probe, holding it in your hand, and adjusting the strength to see what it feels like – remembering that your hand is actually much more sensitive than your pelvic floor.
“As a middle aged woman who’s had surgery & takes prescribed meds for incontinence (both without 100% success), this was a last-ditch attempt for which I didn’t have any great hopes. I’m delighted to say I was wrong – only a few weeks in, & the difference is notable. I’ve stopped taking my meds & don’t need to wear pads every day. After experimenting, I’ve discovered that, for me, the MIXED programme is much less effective. Although it’s recommended for cases of urge & stress (like mine) I’ve got much better results from a daily session of URGE followed by one of STRESS. I’ve made it part of my nightly routine – I use the exerciser while I’m reading in bed before sleeping – so it doesn’t intrude on my life. DO heed the instructions to start at a low setting if you don’t have much sensation in the pelvic floor – sensation will come back really quickly & then you can build up the power setting. Learn from my mistake: I was impatient & started off much too high – & the resulting strained muscles meant I had what felt like really bad period pains the next day.”
If you have any questions regarding intensity and strength settings, please contact us.
What position is best when using Pelvic Floor Exercisers?
You can use it in any position, but most people would find it more comfortable reclining on the sofa or lying in bed with the knees slightly drawn up.
You can also lie on your side with a pillow between your knees if you find it more comfortable.
It is important to find a comfortable position before beginning your 20 minute sessions.
What is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and what causes it?
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) occurs when there is sudden pressure (“stress”) placed on the bladder.
When the pelvic floor muscles become weakened (due to childbirth, aging or obesity) they are less able to cope with these sudden pressures and therefore allow leakages of urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise.
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that wrap around the underside of the bladder and rectum which hold your organs in place. When these muscles become weakened, they struggle to cope with the pressure placed on them by your organs, causing leaks from the bladder (or even the bowel) when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise.
SUI is the most common form of incontinence in women.
Pelvic floor exercisers work to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscle to improve its condition and enable it to cope with these sudden pressures once again.
Our range of pelvic floor exercisers come with clinically proven Stress programmes to target SUI.
What is my Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor (pubococcygeal or PC) muscles are responsible for holding the bladder, womb and bowel in place and for controlling the muscles that control the anus, vagina and urethra.
Located at the base of your pelvis, the pelvic floor consists of a deep muscle layer and a superficial muscle layer. These work together to keep all of your pelvic organs healthy.
The muscles form a figure-of-eight stretching between the pubic bone at the front and your coccyx or tailbone at the rear. The urethra and vagina pass through the front hole and the rectum through the rear.
What is Interstitial Cystitis / Painful Bladder Syndrome?
What is IC / PBS?
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. People may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate (urgency), a frequent need to urinate (frequency), or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women’s symptoms often worsen during menstruation. They may sometimes experience pain with vaginal intercourse..IC / PBS is far more common in women than in men.
What causes IC?
Some of the symptoms of IC / PBS resemble those of bacterial infection, but medical tests reveal no organisms in the urine of patients with IC / PBS. Furthermore, patients with IC / PBS do not respond to antibiotic therapy. Researchers are working to understand the causes of IC / PBS and to find effective treatments.
In recent years, researchers have isolated a substance found almost exclusively in the urine of people with interstitial cystitis. They have named the substance antiproliferative factor, or APF, because it appears to block the normal growth of the cells that line the inside wall of the bladder. Researchers anticipate that learning more about APF will lead to a greater understanding of the causes of IC and to possible treatments.
Researchers are beginning to explore the possibility that heredity may play a part in some forms of IC. In a few cases, IC has affected a mother and a daughter or two sisters, but it does not commonly run in families.
How is IC / PBS diagnosed?
Because symptoms are similar to those of other disorders of the urinary bladder and because there is no definitive test to identify IC / PBS, doctors must rule out other treatable conditions before considering a diagnosis of IC / PBS. The most common of these diseases in both genders are urinary tract infections and bladder cancer. IC / PBS is not associated with any increased risk in developing cancer. In men, common diseases include chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
The diagnosis of IC / PBS in the general population is based on
- Presence of pain related to the bladder, usually accompanied by frequency and urgency
- Absence of other diseases that could cause the symptoms
Diagnostic tests that help in ruling out other diseases include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall, distention of the bladder under anesthesia, urine cytology, and laboratory examination of prostate secretions.
Treatment – Electrical Nerve Stimulation
TENS is relatively inexpensive and allows the patient to take an active part in treatment. Within some guidelines, the patient decides when, how long, and at what intensity TENS will be used. It has been most helpful in relieving pain and decreasing frequency in patients with Hunners ulcers. If TENS is going to help, improvement is usually apparent in 3 to 4 months.
There is no scientific evidence linking diet to IC / PBS, but many doctors and patients find that alcohol, tomatoes, spices, chocolate, caffeinated and citrus beverages, and high-acid foods may contribute to bladder irritation and inflammation. Some patients also note that their symptoms worsen after eating or drinking products containing artificial sweeteners.
Many patients feel that smoking makes their symptoms worse. How the by-products of tobacco that are excreted in the urine affect IC / PBS is unknown. Smoking, however, is the major known cause of bladder cancer. Therefore, one of the best things smokers can do for their bladder and their overall health is to quit.
Many patients feel that gentle stretching exercises help relieve IC / PBS symptoms.
Training the bladder to empty at designated times and use relaxation techniques and distractions to keep to the schedule. Gradually, patients try to lengthen the time between scheduled emptying of the bladder.
There are two procedures; fulguration and resection of ulcers. This is done with instruments inserted through the urethra. Fulguration involves burning Hunners ulcers with electricity or a laser. When the area heals, the dead tissue and the ulcer fall off, leaving new, healthy tissue behind. Resection involves cutting around and removing the ulcers. Both treatments are done under anaesthesia and use special instruments inserted into the bladder through a cystoscope. Laser surgery in the urinary tract should be reserved for patients with Hunners ulcers and should be done only by doctors who have had special training and have the expertise needed to perform the procedure.
Another surgical treatment is augmentation, which makes the bladder larger. In most of these procedures, scarred, ulcerated, and inflamed sections of the patients bladder are removed, leaving only the base of the bladder and healthy tissue. A piece of the patients colon (large intestine) is then removed, reshaped, and attached to what remains of the bladder. After the incisions heal, the patient may void less frequently. The effect on pain varies greatly; IC / PBS can sometimes recur on the segment of colon used to enlarge the bladder.
Even in carefully selected patients—those with small, contracted bladders—pain, frequency, and urgency may remain or return after surgery, and patients may have additional problems with infections in the new bladder and difficulty absorbing nutrients from the shortened colon. Some patients are incontinent, while others cannot void at all and must insert a catheter into the urethra to empty the bladder.
A surgical variation of TENS, called sacral nerve root stimulation, involves permanent implantation of electrodes and a unit emitting continuous electrical pulses. Studies of this experimental procedure are now under way.
Bladder removal, called a cystectomy, is another, very infrequently used, surgical option. Once the bladder has been removed, different methods can be used to reroute the urine. In most cases, ureters are attached to a piece of colon that opens onto the skin of the abdomen. This procedure is called a urostomy and the opening is called a stoma. Urine empties through the stoma into a bag outside the body. Some urologists are using a second technique that also requires a stoma but allows urine to be stored in a pouch inside the abdomen. At intervals throughout the day, the patient puts a catheter into the stoma and empties the pouch. Patients with either type of urostomy must be very careful to keep the area in and around the stoma clean to prevent infection. Serious potential complications may include kidney infection and small bowel obstruction.
A third method to reroute urine involves making a new bladder from a piece of the patients colon and attaching it to the urethra. After healing, the patient may be able to empty the newly formed bladder by voiding at scheduled times or by inserting a catheter into the urethra. Only a few surgeons have the special training and expertise needed to perform this procedure.
Are there any special concerns?
Cancer There is no evidence that IC / PBS increases the risk of bladder cancer.
Pregnancy Researchers have little information about pregnancy and IC / PBS but believe that the disorder does not affect fertility or the health of the foetus. Some women find that their IC / PBS goes into remission during pregnancy, while others experience a worsening of their symptoms.
Coping The emotional support of family, friends, and other people with IC / PBS is very important in helping patients cope. Studies have found that patients who learn about the disorder and become involved in their own care do better than patients who do not. See the Interstitial Cystitis Association of Americas website to find a group near you.
What if I can’t do my Pelvic Floor Exercises or Kegels?
Research has shown that 30% of women who experience incontinence are unable to voluntarily contract the pelvic floor muscle and require additional assistance to aid their pelvic floor training.
A continence stimulator or pelvic floor exerciser can help. It provides gentle electrical stimulation to the weakened pelvic floor muscle using clinically recognised programmes.
It exercises the muscle for you, using a discrete and comfortable tampon shaped probe, developing the pelvic floor muscle strength and subsequent control.
If used for 20 minutes a day over a period of a few weeks, it can increase muscle strength and subsequent control.
Click here to see our range of Pelvic Floor Exercisers.
Sacral Nerve Stimulation (SNS) to treat incontinence
Sacral Nerve Stimulation can be used to treat urinary or faecal incontinence. It uses external electrodes and can be used as an alternative to internal electrodes such as a vaginal or anal probe.
SNS works through external electrodes which are placed onto the skin. Small electrical currents are passed from an electronic control unit through the electrodes and stimulate the muscles in the area on which the electrodes have been placed. The stimulation of the muscles causes muscle contraction which, when placed over the Sacral Nerves, causes the pelvic floor to contract and therefore exercises it.
The Sacral Nerves make up a large area of your nervous system along your spinal cord and include the nerves that connect your brain to your lower organs such as your bladder, bowel and pelvic floor. The electrical signals sent through the electrodes cause the pelvic floor muscles to contract which, over time, strengthens and tones them.
Electrodes should be placed externally on the skin near your coccyx, and/or lower down between your anus and genitalia (see images below).
You can use the ‘Urge’ programmes with external electrodes on your pelvic floor exerciser control unit. Ensure that the intensity is set high enough to cause a slight contraction of the muscles surrounding the electrodes (e.g. your anus).
You may have to purchase the electrodes separately (code: CM5050, 50x50mm Electrodes).
For more information, please contact us for confidential advice.
Is Continence Stimulation good value for money?
If we assume that a box of 10 containment pads costs around $10.00 aus and that you only use 4 pads per day (and most of us would use more); that’s 1,460 pads used per year, or 146 boxes of 10 pads, at an annual cost of $1460.00 aus.
So, as you can see, our pelvic floor exercisers are great value for money in comparison.
It pays back in a matter of months and in your first year alone you could save $1260.00 aus on containment pads.
Using pelvic floor exercisers can strengthen pelvic floor muscles and help you to learn how to control them, reducing the number of continence episodes, the amount of urine leaked, and the amount of containment pads required.
Instead of just containing the problem, pelvic floor exercisers help to dramatically improve the symptoms of incontinence.
To see our range of pelvic floor exercisers, please click here.
How you know if you have positioned the Liberty probe correctly?
The Liberty Vaginal probe should be inserted with the rim facing upwards and downwards, with the metal electrode plates to left and right (outwards towards your thighs).
If you orientate the probe incorrectly, you may only have sensation on one side (however this can also happen if you suffered nerve damage during birth).
Insert until the rim at the base of the electrode is sited between the labia. It’s fairly difficult to get this wrong. If you don’t insert it far enough, you will probably feel that the stimulation is in the wrong place.
If you do not feel any sensation at all, you may require a larger probe.
How does continence stimulation help urge incontinence?
Urge incontinence is occurs when the bladder sends a message to the brain telling it that it’s full, and the muscle starts to contract too early (also called bladder instability).
This may be caused by cystitis (urinary infection) or an overactive or unstable bladder (when there’s an increased frequency of having to pass urine during the day and having to get up at night to urinate – also called nocturia), which can sometimes be related to nerve problems including stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury.
Continence stimulation through the use of pelvic floor exercisers helps urge incontinence by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and reducing the urge to pass urine and also the frequency to pass urine.
All of our pelvic floor stimulators have preset Urge programmes specifically designed to treat Urge incontinence.
To see our range of pelvic floor exercisers, click here.
How does continence stimulation help Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)?
Approximately 30% of women who experience incontinence are unable to voluntarily contract the pelvic floor muscle and require additional assistance to aid in their pelvic floor training.
This is where continence stimulation is vitally important in the re-training of the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Floor Stimulation (PFS) is a non-invasive treatment which activates natural neuromuscular mechanisms and is aimed at exercising and toning the pelvic floor muscles.
In the case of Stress Incontinence (SUI), PFS automates pelvic floor exercises via a pudendal nerve reflex. Unlike other treatments, PFS has no side-effects, always exercises the right muscles and does not require active patient participation.
Numerous studies have reported that 70% of patients are either improved or cured using PFS.
Like any other muscle building, stimulation for Stress Incontinence takes time to work, You should expect to exercise for at least 12 weeks for best results.
PFS also works in the same way for the treatment of faecal incontinence or urinary incontinence in men, if used with an anal probe instead of a vaginal probe.
To see our range of Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercisers and Stimulators, please click here.
How do I know which type of incontinence I have?
You can fill in the short survey below to see what type of incontinence you have: Stress, Urge or Mixed.
What type of Incontinence do I have?
You should always speak to your medical advisor or continence advisor before seeking self-treatment for incontinence.
How do I find my Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Try to tighten the muscles around your vagina and back passage and lift up, as if you are stopping yourself passing water and wind at the same time. A quick way of locating the pelvic floor muscles is to try and stop the flow of urine, mid stream.
Do not do this regularly as you may begin to retain urine.
Once you’ve located your muscles, make sure you relax and empty your bladder completely.
If you are still a little unsure as to whether or not you are exercising the right muscles, put a couple of your fingers or thumb into your vagina. You should feel a gentle squeeze when carrying out the exercise.
How can Pelvic Floor Exercisers help me?
1 in 3 women (50% of women over 40), and 1 in 7 men will suffer from some form of incontinence during their lives; be it post-childbirth or later in life as pelvic floor muscles weaken.
The severity of incontinence can vary. Even though it is not considered life-threatening, it can cause depression, isolation and soreness. Pelvic floor exercisers are recognised as an effective method of strengthening the muscles that support the bladder and bowel, and are a more cost-effective, better long-term solution than containment pads.
Why use a TensCare Pelvic Floor Exerciser?
Pelvic floor exercisers and trainers are seen as the most effective way to prevent issues with incontinence. Yet, 1 in 3 women do not know how or are unable to voluntarily exercise their pelvic floor muscle themselves. Pelvic Floor Exercisers can play a vital role in educating women about their pelvic floor and the sensation they should feel when doing pelvic floor exercises, helping to improve muscle tone and associated problems. They can also train pelvic floor muscles in men by using electrical stimulation through an anal probe or electrode.
Benefits to using a TensCare Pelvic Floor Exerciser:
- Drug-free and well-tolerated
- Easy-to-use at home
- Clinically proven programmes
- Reduces the usage of containment pads
- Can help to reduce leakage
- Helps to avoid rectal prolapse
- Helps to ease chronic pelvic pain
- Helps men’s prostate to function
How can Pelvic Floor Exercisers help Urinary Incontinence?
Pelvic Floor Exercisers are portable EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) units which help to build the pelvic muscle strength whilst educating women how to control their pelvic floor. Pelvic Floor Exercisers work by sending gentle stimulation (EMS) to your pelvic floor muscle through a vaginal or anal probe, or via self adhesive electrode pads using clinically recognised programmes. The units exercise and tone the pelvic floor muscle helping you to gain control of your bladder naturally. For best results, it is recommended to use your Pelvic Floor Exerciser in conjunction with Kegel Exercises for best results.
The benefits of pelvic floor exercises for women, particularly after childbirth, are well documented. However, these simple exercises are also very valuable for men following prostatectomy or other prostate surgery where removing the prostate has damaged the area between the bladder and urethra resulting in some form of urinary incontinence whether it is Stress, Mixed or Urge.
A study following men through the first year after prostatectomy found pelvic floor exercises are effective in terms of reducing incontinence. The iTouch Sure Pelvic Floor Exerciser for Men locates and tones your pelvic floor muscle helping you to rebuild muscle strength and reduce any accidental leakages.
How can Pelvic Floor Exercisers help Faecal Incontinence?
Faecal incontinence can be the result of weakened or poorly functioning anal sphincter muscles or damage to the nerves controlling them.
Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can be used to re-educate the anal sphincter to contract. The treatments aim to progress towards graduated active exercises, in order to improve pelvic floor muscles strength and endurance and to regain function.
How do men use a Pelvic Floor Exerciser?
The Elise is a discreet unit with an intra-anal probe. The unit uses comfortable muscle stimulation to exercise your pelvic floor muscle to aid recovery from urinary and faecal incontinence.
For the more common Urge incontinence, the Elise is supplied with self-adhesive electrode pads that are placed either side of the spine. It uses gentle electrical stimulation to sooth irritable bladder muscles. Additional electrode pads, replacement probes and Go Gel lubricating gel are all available to purchase as accessories.
A recent clinical trial carried out on the TensCare iTouch Sure Pelvic Floor Exerciser has been conducted in the US with excellent results. Participants in the study experienced a 57.1% reduction in the use of continence pads and a significant improvement in incontinence episodes after only 12 weeks of using the iTouch Sure. The chart below provides the results from the clinical trial:
How can Pelvic Floor Exercisers be used for Men?
Pelvic Floor Exercisers can be used for men with the use of an anal probe instead of a vaginal probe for the treatment ofurinary incontinence.
The same settings and programmes can be used on the machines, which can also be used with an anal probe for the treatment of faecal incontinence.
The stimulation cannot be restricted to one muscle group, and the mucosal tissue has different electrical characteristics, therefore anal stimulation is less comfortable than vaginal.
You should always consult your physician before starting treatment.
Faecal incontinence can be the result of weakened or poorly functioning anal sphincter muscles or damage to the nerves controlling them. The purpose is to re-educate the anal sphincter and other muscles of the pelvic floor to contract.
The treatments aim to progress towards graduated active exercises, in order to improve pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance and to regain function.
You may benefit from Pelvic Floor Exercisers if you either have no active anal sphincter contraction, or a weak or poorly sustained contraction.
Use the STRESS or TONE programmes.
Intensity should be as strong as possible without being painful. When possible, try to contract the muscles at the same time as the Pelvic Floor Exerciser.
Post Prostatectomy Urinary Incontinence
Electrical stimulation has been found to help urinary incontinence in men after radical prostatectomy in some trials.
Use the same programmes as for vaginal stimulation.
Increase intensity in Stres, Mixed, or Tone programmes to the highest tolerable.
**When purchasing your Pelvic Floor Exerciser, please contact us after you have placed your order and we can simply swap the vaginal probe for an anal probe.
Alternatively, you can purchase an anal probe here.
Can Pelvic Floor Exercises benefit men too?
The benefits of pelvic floor exercises for women, particularly after childbirth, are well established. However these simple exercises are also very valuable for men following prostatectomy (the removal of the prostate due to a diagnosis of cancer). During the first few weeks after a prostatectomy, almost all patients experience some urinary incontinence.
This is because removing the prostate disturbs the area between the bladder and urethra, which carries urine out of the body. During surgery, the bladder is pulled down to join the urethra and in so doing, restoring continuity. The bladder neck muscle (internal sphincter) is sometimes also weakened during surgery.
Consequently, before surgery men had three layers holding back urine – the internal sphincter muscle, the prostate lobes and an external sphincter muscle. After surgery, there is only one layer – the external sphincter.
This means that the single barrier needs to work very well. Therefore, pelvic floor exercises which strengthen these muscles can be very effective in the recovery of continence. A study following men through the first year after prostatectomy found pelvic floor exercises are effective in terms of reducing incontinence.
The type of incontinence experienced by men in the first three months after a prostatectomy is typically mild leaking. But this can be very distressing for patients as they recover from surgery and want to return to normal life. Even when incontinence is mild, men are understandably uncomfortable about having to wear pads to work, for example.
Pelvic floor exercises are an unusual concept to most men, as they are far more closely associated with women. However we find that the majority of our patients are keen to do anything they can to improve their continence. Pelvic floor exercises are a valuable means of patients doing something themselves to aid their recovery.
We emphasise that exercises should be done little and often. In many cases, patients expect results too quickly. We make the comparison with improving your muscle tone in the gym. You will not get results immediately, nor will you develop a six pack if you pop down once a week. Improving bladder function through pelvic floor exercises, like muscle tone, requires effective practice, consistency and long term commitment.
By three months post surgery, 70 per cent of patients are continent. This is defined as no longer needing continence pads. Once patients have reached a year post surgery, only four per cent of patients are significantly incontinent. Among this group of patients who continue to experience incontinence after one year, many are older men and some will have had continence problems before surgery.
It is difficult to quantify exactly to what extent the recovery of continence is due to bulking up the muscles through pelvic floor exercises and how much is due to the natural healing process.
For more information on pelvic floor stimulation, please see here.
Can pelvic floor exercisers help with Pelvic Pain?
Using the “Urge” programme encourages your body to produce endorphins – your own natural painkiller – and can help to relieve pelvic pain. The Urge programmes can be used with either a vaginal or anal probe.
Otherwise (if you do not need the machine for incontinence), you can use a general TENS machine (not a pelvic floor exerciser) and use external self-adhesive electrodes to place around the area of pain.
TENS has also been used successfully for relieving most types of pelvic pain and our TENS machines provide a wider range of pain relief settings
To see our range of TENS machines, please see here.
Can I use a pelvic floor exerciser if I have a vaginal prolapse?
If you have a prolapse, you should consult your medical advisor before use.
Increased muscle tone may help contain the prolapse, but, if the prolapse is severe, working the muscle strongly or inserting the probe may cause futher issues before other treatment is carried out.
A severe, or Grade 3 prolapse has symptoms as follows:
- Prolapse worsening
- Urinary incontinence
- Ability to feel organs descending into the vagina
- Pain with sitting
- Incomplete bowel emptying
- Inability to have intercourse.
If you are unsure, please speak to your medical advisor before contacting us.