Pelvic floor rehabilitation can help to mitigate the side effects of treatment for prostate cancer.
Pelvic floor rehabilitation is not always talked about as an option after treatment for prostate cancer, but it can be very effective at minimizing the side effects that often come with prostate cancer treatment, such as radiation or surgery. After radiation or surgery, you may experience incontinence or leaking of urine that you cannot control.
The most common method of dealing with incontinence is by performing kegel exercises. This is a very simple, but very effective, way of dealing with incontinence. The kegel exercise strengthens the muscles used to control the flow of urine.
Muscles that Make Up the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is made up of the bladder, sphincter muscles, and pubococcygeus, or PC muscle. The bladder holds the urine. The sphincter muscles help open and close the urethra, which is the tube that moves urine from the bladder, and the PC muscle provides support for your bladder as well as the rectum. It also helps control urine flow.
Before performing pelvic floor rehab exercises it is important to identify the pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way to do this is to consciously start and stop urinating. After doing this a few times you should be able to recognize the areas that are controlling this ability. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
Performing kegel exercises is an effective way to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. The reason you need to strengthen these muscles is that they can be weakened during prostate cancer treatment. Many muscles surround the prostate gland. Undergoing surgery or radiation treatment can weaken these muscles. It is important to strengthen them just as you would any other body part after surgery. Strengthening the pelvic floor helps you regain control of your urine flow that you may lose during prostate cancer treatment.
To perform the kegel exercise you should tighten the muscles in your pelvic floor and hold that position for five seconds. Relax and repeat. Plan on performing 20 repetitions of this at least three times a day.
There are some things you should remember when performing kegels. The exercise should feel like you are pulling the muscles up and in, do not press down. Do not hold your breath during the kegel. Do not tense the muscles in the surrounding areas, such as the thighs, stomach or buttocks during the exercise, and be sure to relax the pelvic floor muscles entirely between each repetition.
If you cannot do 20 repetitions of the kegel at one time, do as many as you can while maintaining good form. Try to do more each time, but don’t sacrifice form for more reps. Kegels are very effective for pelvic floor rehabilitation, but you should not expect to see results overnight. Like strengthening any muscle, it takes time to see results. For the best results, you should begin performing your pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises before your prostate surgery treatment.
You may begin to see improvements to your condition within six weeks of starting these exercises. Do not be discouraged if kegels do not eliminate your issues with incontinence entirely. Most issues resolve within a year of treatment, but it does take time. Performing kegels can speed healing and reduce the amount of urine leakage you experience.