Dear Le Snuggle: Just A Quick Question


Welcome to our "Snuggle Sunday" Q & A series, where our blog authors respond to frequently asked questions and offer advice.
Editor’s Note:  To date, we have not centered any articles around comments or letters received from our customers/subscribers.  We receive a lot of feedback on Sundays compared to the rest of the week and we felt compelled to respond to this particular letter sent to us via snail mail. 
We are keeping his name and address anonymous for privacy concerns.

My wife recently visited her gynecologist for her annual examination and mammogram.  Her physician actually questioned her about our sex life after her examination was completed. My wife explained that our satisfaction levels are diminished and as a result, we are both shying away from our previously frequent sexual encounters.

After a lengthy conversation about previous childbirths, our ages, as well as both of our medical histories (I thought this appointment was for her!), her doctor explained that there are limited non-invasive options available for vaginal laxity.  Her physician recommended that not only should she start doing pelvic floor exercises, but that I should do so as well. 

My question is: What benefits will I derive from doing these exercises?  

As an added note since you always ask or allude to things not included in emails, I am 68, a previous cancer survivor (prostate), with several health issues. High blood pressure, kidney disease and obesity.

Thank you for reaching out. We are encouraged to hear that physicians are finally asking sexual questions openly and honestly.  A happy patient will also be healthier overall. These conversations should have been happening for decades. It does appear that the stigma attached to sexual discussions is greatly diminishing, but more needs to be done. If these conversations are not happening with your physicians, you need to start these discussions. If you not sure how to initiate a talk with your doctors, you can review our previous article entitled “Having The “Talk” With Our Partners And Physicians”.

There are very positive benefits from performing Kegel exercises or, pelvic floor strengthening exercises if you prefer. For the both of you!

As you know, with age and a history of existing prostate difficulties, you are likely to experience ongoing bladder issues (dribbling, infections, etc.). Strengthening your pelvic floor is essential for you with regard to your bladder and bowel health, and will help to improve your sexual health as well.

These exercises are beneficial for both men and women. For women, these exercises are beneficial for lowering the risk of vaginal prolapse, better bowel and bladder control, enhanced sexual function and enhanced recovery from childbirth.

Before we give detailed instructions on how to perform these exercises, there are two critically important things to know:

1. It is imperative that prior to performing pelvic floor strengthening exercises, you need to correctly identify the muscles that need to be exercised.

2. This is not an overnight process. It takes time, effort and consistency.  For someone with your prostate history, once you get in the habit of consistently doing these exercises, you should continue these for the rest of your life.

If we could get everyone to perform these exercises at a much younger age, it would probably prevent a number of unnecessary surgeries down the line. As usual, it is all about arming and informing ourselves for overall health and wellness.  Particularly, sexual health and wellness.

According to the Bladder and Bowel Community (B&BC):

“It takes time for exercise to improve muscle function. You are unlikely to notice any improvement for several weeks, so stick at it! You will need to exercise regularly for at least 3 months before the muscles gain their full strength.”

Since you and your wife are beginners and it is easier to do Kegels lying down, I would recommend starting in this manner. Once you are comfortable with performance of these Kegel exercises, they can be done anywhere or anytime!

An easy trick is to incorporate them into your daily life. Work them into habitual tasks. Brushing your teeth, shaving, sitting at your desk or even while watching television.

HOW TO PERFORM CORE EXERCISES CORRECTLY:

  1. Stop urination midflow. Attempt to stop and start your urine stream. The muscles you are using to do this are your pelvic floor muscles. 
  1. Squeeze your anus muscles. Use the muscles you use to to pass gas or, holding in a bowel movement. Contract and release your anus muscles repeatedly.

Note:  According to wikihow:

 “If you notice yourself tightening your buttocks, thigh or abdominal muscles, then stop the exercise and try again."

You can use a mirror to make sure you are using the correct muscles.  Standing in front of the mirror, try to lift your penis vertically while keeping your buttocks and abdominal muscles still. 

B&BC suggests trying this to ensure you are performing these pelvic floor exercises correctly. 

“Imagine trying to draw your penis inside your body to shorten it, while at the same time lifting your scrotum upwards toward your belly button. If your technique is correct, each time that you tighten your pelvic floor muscles you may feel a dip at the base of your penis, and the scrotum will move up slightly”.

How many to perform?

According to wikihow:

“Start with five reps. Do a set of five reps twice a day”

Add from there.  After a week, increase more reps and another set. Continue to increase weekly.  Once you are in a routine, contract and hold your pelvic muscles for five seconds and then relax for five seconds. Do this 10 times, three times a day.

Again, as you get used to these, they can be done anywhere.  According to wikihow, your end goal should be a set of 20 reps, four times per day. (ie., 60 to 80 individual exercises per day).

Again, do not expect immediate results. At a minimum, it will take six weeks or more before a noticeable difference.

It should be noted that there are occasions where a person cannot contract their pelvic muscles on their own.  If that should occur, speak to your doctor.  If he determines possible nerve damage, he or she may refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist or, conduct biofeedback to help you find and use these very important muscles.

Medical News Today does give a warning about a common misconception:

In their article “How to do pelvic floor exercises”, they do not recommend starting and stopping urine flow to test pelvic floor muscle control. By doing this for anything other than to identify the proper muscles, it could result in incomplete emptying of the bladder and/or possible infections.

If you are still unsure of whether or not you are finding the correct muscles, I am also providing a video to assist you. 

 

Thank you again for reaching out, and I hope that the information provided answers all of your questions. Do not hesitate to reach out again with positive results or, any other questions you may have.

Once your strengthening exercises are providing positive results, consider introducing Le Snuggle into your sexual repertoire.

We would love to hear about the great improvements to your sex life.  Good luck. 

Additionally: I am providing links to two articles on our blog for your review:

“National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know" 

and, “Sex After Prostate Cancer/The Next Part Of The Journey”