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Pelvic Floor Health For Men: Part 1

What happens when the family jewels aren’t feeling good or functioning properly? Do you feel like your manhood is a stake? Do you talk to other dudes about your problems in the locker room? Have you ever expressed these concerns with your partner? Do you even seek professional help? Or, are you afraid that they will find something that is wrong with your tool?

Across the world, 50% of men will experience pelvic pain at some point in their lives. Beyond this, 74% of men will experience ejaculatory pain. Yes, you heard that right, pain when your gun goes off (whether from intentionally pulling the trigger or a misfire).

Newsflash, dudes have pelvic floors too! And, I am here to tell you that you won’t lose your man card for seeking help when there is something peculiar going on with yours.

Men, what if I told you that improving the performance of your pelvic floor will not only garner better results in the gym, but also make you a more powerful lover with your partner?

No, this isn’t an article about magically taking you from zero to hero and promoting your wedding tackle from soldier to sex-god. My goal today is to educate you about how your daily lifestyle choices, habits, and environment could be contributing to potential pelvic pain and dysfunction, and to provide you with some much needed education regarding how psychology and mindset bring can bring conscious awareness back to your body.

SOCIAL NORMS

How can we begin to fix a problem if we don’t talk about it? Across the board, there is decreased communication about the pelvic floor amongst men. It sure as hell isn’t something we feel comfortable discussing in the locker room. And, this all stems from the social taboos created around the male genital system. Men are typically afraid or embarrassed to be seen as “weak” amongst their male peers if something is wrong with their unit. We won’t talk to our friends, we rarely go to the doctor, and we sure as hell wouldn’t want to bring this up with our partner. In fact, we are even terrible at expressing our basic emotions because these feelings are seen as “weak” in our culture. Men don’t cry. We are macho. This tends to build resentment amongst couples who begin making up stories in their own head (with no outward evidence) as an attempt to take a wild guess at what their partner is feeling. Eventually, after telling ourselves enough times, these stories become reality, often leading to the demise of many relationships.

Even the catholic church has taught us that if we masturbate we will go straight to hell. And, what little boy ever follows that dogma? Instead, we sneak away to our room to rub one off before mom catches us. Repressing these innate urges for pleasure teaches our brain that, in order to orgasm, we must do it quickly. We need to release that sexual energy as quickly as possible. It’s no wonder why the average time a man can last only 3 minutes in bed is! How long do you think your partner wants you to last? This is not an environment where speed is king.   

Then, out of nowhere, we started diagnosing conditions such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and stress induced performance anxiety. The common thread amongst all of these? Stress.

AWARENESS

There are negative aspects of load. Physiological, psychological, and emotional stressors impact our body on so many different levels. People become numb to them because of the idea that being busy equals success. However, we shouldn’t use progress as an indicator for productivity. We get caught up in creating wealth, power, and prestige at the expense of our own health - literally draining our energy. It’s not surprising that our relationships and sex drive suffer, taking a back seat to other priorities. Having awareness and recognizing how you spend your time will help you prioritize the things in your life that will rejuvenate your energy and keep you focused on optimal productivity.

STRESS IS KILLING YOUR BONER

Excessive stimulation in the form of cell phones, social media, TV, and computer screens kills libido and romance. Remove the TV from the bedroom all together. It makes you anti-social, decreasing your ability to make human connections. How can you focus on the beautiful woman lying next to you if there is a Fast and the Furious marathon playing in the background? It really will be your “one last ride.” Instead, learn to feel your partner…and not just with your hands. In order to be present, your mind needs to be clear from distractions. This will allow you to sense the subtleties of how she is reacting to your moves, gain insights into her thoughts, and truly connect with her soul. When this happens, your woman will begin to trust you and open her heart. The more her heart opens, the greater the intimacy and pleasure created.

The TV isn’t the only source of problems. Our body experiences emotional triggers from all the synthetic stimulation (phones, ipads, computers, etc) we’re bombarded with daily. These stimuli trigger the release of hormones which have a catabolic effect, causing a sympathetic fight or flight stress response. These stress chemicals interfere with internal rhythms such as the digestive process, wake/sleep cycles, cognitive processing, as well as promoting systemic inflammation. The increase in inflammatory chemical messengers wakes up old aches and pains via the brain’s memory bank; this is why past painful (physical and emotional) sexual experiences from abuse, physical trauma, or embarrassment can dig up formerly repressed memories leading to manifestations of testicular pain, groin pain, erectile dysfunction, and performance anxiety.

It’s no wonder why we called chronically stressed out people “anal.” When we burn the candle at both ends we become wired and tired, and many men end up holding that tension in their pelvic floor. If you’ve never recognized that as a possibility, how could you ever start the process of letting go? Instead, you stay in this “holding pattern,” literally white-knuckling with your pelvic floor muscles. This could potentially lead to altered function and restriction around important blood vessels and nerves that supply your manhood. Have you ever had a kink in your garden hose? Pressure drops, there is no flow, and the whole system becomes flaccid. Sure, you could unkink the hose with a little blue pill, but putting a bandaid over the problem is only temporary solution. Your body and your mind are so intimately connected, and your emotions and your attitude towards life affect your muscular tension and your ability to relax.  

Overloading the stress response means you won’t have any energy left for a sex drive. The body and brain has a priority list. Safety and security ranks highest on the list; this is food, sleep, and feeling protected. Add in the stress of training, and your brain will decommission your cock in order to preserve energy.

Rest, a parasympathetic state, is a sacred time for winding down and for optimal growth and repair cycles to run their course. For example, rest is vitally important for the building of testosterone in men. Before you run to your doc for some T shots, try prioritizing your sleep. This is a relaxed state where the body seeks balance. You need to ride the wave of relaxation, bringing the body and mind back to baseline in order for you to reach optimal performance in other sympathetic activities, like sex. When the body has had ample time to rest and recover, then you can learn to enjoy the process. When the body isn’t relaxed, and you are focusing on the end goal of orgasm, you will blow your Johnny WOD too quickly. This reinforces the motor program of pump and dump that you learned as a child. When you are relaxed, you will feel more connected and present with your partner so that when you initiate something like sex, you can both fully experience the highest levels of pleasure.  

MASTER YOUR MOVEMENT: RELAX To RELOAD

If you want your pelvic floor to function at optimal health, so that you can live your most productive and connected life with yourself, your partner, and everyone else you interact with daily, start by taking an inventory of your thoughts, feelings, and social perspectives. How do you feel? Where are you holding onto tension? What’s stressing you out? How long do you last in bed? How intimately connected would your partner think the two of you are? How energized do you feel? When you can recognize and acknowledge that you are feeling overworked, overstressed or overstimulated (not in the good way) then you can prioritize your life to what matters most.

You want to function at optimal potential in the gym, at work, and in bed, so take some time to rest, get some sleep, and focus on the people you care about most, yourself included.

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Matthew Zanis

Power Athlete Block One Coach at Power Athlete
PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS Former baseball catcher and an avid outdoorsman. Worked with Division 1 basketball, football, and track and field at the University of Pittsburgh, along with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Cardinals organizations. Received a Bachelors in Athletic Training from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University in 2014. Is board certified in Orthopedics and a Fellow through the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. Is a PT with the United States Olympic Committee and USA Shooting. Currently operates his performance therapy practice in Scottsdale, AZ with Dr. Tom Incledon of Causenta Wellness, and became a Power Athlete Block One Coach in September of 2017.

Dr. Zanis utilizes the Power Athlete Methodology to optimize performance, reduce injury risk, and rehab his clients and athletes through movement assessment, coaching, and individualized program design.

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