Older men who perform pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) can get the same benefits as taking drugs for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), suggests a Dutch study appearing in the International Journal of Urology.
The study, “Pelvic floor muscle therapy or alpha-blocking agents for treatment of men with lower urinary tract symptoms: An exploratory randomized controlled trial,” was conducted by University of Groningen researchers looking into the cause of LUTS in older men. Some studies have only found a weak correlation between benign prostate hyperplasia and LUTS, suggesting that its cause may be related to pelvic muscle dysfunction.
Increased tension in the pelvic muscle may impair its ability to relax during voiding, or cause the urge to urinate even when the bladder isn’t full. To understand why, authors of the present study evaluated the effects of PFMT in older men with LUTS compared to standard treatment with alpha-blocking agents such as Flomax.
Under present guidelines, alpha-blockers are the first line of treatment for uncomplicated LUTS. However, they are only moderately effective and often cause unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, low blood pressure and ejaculatory dysfunction.
The study included 41 men between 51 and 82 years of age, with moderate to severe LUTS. Participants were divided into two groups; one received Flomax (0.4 mg per day) and the other PFMT for 90 days. PFMT protocol included specific physical exercises as well as behavioral counseling on nutrition and voiding habits.
By the end of the 90-day period, both groups of men had reduced their international prostate symptom scores and showed some improvement on a LUTS-specific quality of life index. When it came to sexual function, researchers saw no difference between the groups. Nevertheless, men who had PFMT intervention scored better on global perception of improvement than those taking Flomax.
“The present study suggests that PFMT has a positive effect on LUTS that is comparable with that of α-blocker treatment,” wrote the authors, though they urged more studies with a larger number of participants and inclusion of a untreated control group to further confirm these results.