By Becca Ironside, PT
Your urologist has likely performed a digital exam (meaning they inserted a finger) to assess the size of your prostate. It is the test that NOBODY wants from their doctors. But the test is valuable because it can determine if your prostate is enlarged. And you are in good company, Sam, because the chances of having an enlarged prostate are as high as 50% in guys over the age of fifty. This condition is referred to as BPH, or benign prostatic hypertrophy, in the medical world. 
As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I have treated many men with enlarged prostates, or BPH. Their complaints range from difficulty peeing (hesitation, weak stream or dribbling) to the sensation of sitting on a golf ball (or a ping pong ball, if you prefer this sport over golf)! Furthermore, erectile dysfunction can also result from having an enlarged prostate.
While pelvic floor physical therapists cannot shrink enlarged prostates (we are not magicians), we can help with techniques to improve urinary flow, educate on the mechanics of urination to maximize that stream, and even teach men how to perform Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. Stronger muscles in the saddle region can lead to better erections.
In response to your question, Sam, having an enlarged prostate is not a huge cause for concern. Remind yourself that roughly half of the guys from your graduating high school class now have the same condition. And if you want to refine what your pelvic floor muscles are doing for you, pelvic floor physical therapy is a nice option to take control of your symptoms and improve the quality of your life.
Question from Lars: I had my appendix removed over 6 months ago. I have noticed that my erections are not the same since my surgery. I spoke about it with my surgeon, who prescribed Cialis. Why is this happening? Is this normal?
Answer from Becca: This is such an interesting question, Lars. Erections are obviously governed by blood flow, which is likely why your doctor prescribed the Cialis. But there is also more involved with arousal than meets the naked eye (please excuse the pun. I just get so enthused when talking about this, I cannot help myself!)
The beginnings of an erection start with blood flow that is shunted to the groin. What makes erections so complex is that once the blood gets into the penis and testicles, it needs to remain there during the arousal process. In order for the blood to remain there, the pelvic floor muscles are required to lengthen to accommodate this new influx of pressure.
If the muscles responsible for containing this blood are too tight, they won’t be able to do their job, which is to act as a water balloon that expands to take in more water. With tight pelvic floor muscles, guys are left with a water balloon with a much smaller reservoir and volume capacity.
Now, let’s add another factor into your specific situation, Lars. The muscles of the core, specifically a deep abdominal muscle known as the transversus abdominus, have a very close relationship with the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles contract in ejaculation, so does the transversus abdominus; conversely, when the pelvic floor muscles lengthen to accommodate blood in the penis and testicles, the transversus abdominus follows in suit.
Given the location of your appendix and the scar tissue incurred from its removal, there may have been a disruption in the coordination of your pelvic floor and core muscles. Decreased erectile function can certainly happen if these two muscle groups are not communicating in the exquisite and refined manner which they once did.
Pelvic floor physical therapists often hear of decreased quality of sex after abdominal surgeries in their patients. It is often one of the first questions I ask people who report a change in sexual habits. Lucky for you, Lars, and so many others, is that seeing a professional to manually release the scars of your surgical incisions and learning how to breathe properly during very basic life activities can reunite these muscle groups who have parted ways.
As a review, the appendix removal might have caused the abdominal muscles to become bound down and unable to expand. As a result, the pelvic floor muscles might have shortened and less blood was then allowed into the penis and testicles for Lars. There are so many people for whom this is the case. And there is help in pelvic floor physical therapy!
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