How Can Biofeedback Help Men?

In the last five decades, the healthcare industry has been counting on innovative treatments and the latest technological advances to deal with various diseases. 

Biofeedback is one of them – a mind-body therapy that can scale the heights of mental and physical health.

At first, biofeedback treatment was used for treating ailments like asthma, Raynaud’s disease, arterial hypertension, and more. Nowadays, it has extended its use in wellness, boosting athletic performance and psychophysical rehabilitation. 

Psychological and psychiatric disorders can make use of biofeedback therapy too. This makes it a highly versatile treatment option for cognitive disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress. But, there is more to biofeedback training than meets the eye. 

Some reports show it can help men with prostate problems, too. So, what is biofeedback, and how can it come in handy in men’s health? Let’s look at the latest research and the therapy’s impact on the male body.

What Is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a technique to amplify proper sensory feedback and provide adequate control of body functions. These bodily functions are typically deemed involuntary. Biofeedback training begins with a practitioner measuring specific bodily functions.

The patient can see their results on a screen and then test different ways to change them. A biofeedback practitioner will use that neurofeedback to suggest practical options. These options can be used to make physiologic changes. 

People turn to this kind of therapy for many health complications. Such as:

Some have relied on biofeedback training for managing their blood pressure. Others use it for their substance abuse disorder, epilepsy, and metabolic condition. 

Other than neuromuscular retraining, the primary use of biofeedback therapy is to help with chronic symptoms. This includes chronic pain, anxiety, fecal incontinence, muscle tension, etc. 

The biofeedback technique focuses on coordinating muscle activity in the gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary tracts (organs of the urinary system and reproductive system). It can also help with calming an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

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Types of Biofeedback

Now that you know what biofeedback is, it’s important to look at the different types or methods used during therapy. A biofeedback therapist can use a range of techniques during a biofeedback session. They are tailored towards reaching a certain health goal.

The types include:

Brain waves

EEG biofeedback can help patients get in touch with their inner brain waves and better understand their brain activity. Neurofeedback can teach patients how to control these waves and reach a desired state of mind. If your goal is to treat depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric disorders, then it’s best to rely on trained neurofeedback professionals. 

Body temperature

This type of biofeedback therapy measures the flow of blood to the skin. When the temperature drops, it could mean you are under a lot of stress. So, it’s important to incorporate relaxation techniques. 

Heart rate

HRV biofeedback is a key therapy training that makes sure your heart rate matches your breathing patterns. With the help of earlobe/finger sensors and a device to spot changes in blood volume, the practitioner will measure the heart rate. This is a practical option for gaining heart rate variability biofeedback. 

Muscle contraction

A practitioner uses EMG biofeedback to figure out what’s causing the muscle contraction. They will place sensors over the skeletal muscles to obtain the necessary information. This helps people receive information about their muscle state. They can use it to ease some of that muscle tension and pain. 

Breathing

For patients struggling with breathing problems, respiratory biofeedback can help monitor their respiration rate and patterns. Experts will use bands around the chest and abdomen to get the desired result.

Sweat gland activity

Measuring the activity of the sweat glands can help alert people about their anxiety. This type of biotherapy involves the use of sensors on the palm or wrist, or around the fingers. EDG then assesses the activity and offers necessary feedback.

Techniques

Biofeedback therapy is typically seen as a form of training instead of a treatment. With practice and training, like relaxation exercises, people can acquire the necessary skills and obtain newfound coping and performing mechanisms. 

A single session can last roughly 30-60 min, with a course featuring 4 to 6 sessions. But, getting 8 to 10 sessions can also help. 

The duration and techniques used during biofeedback therapy depend on the condition you want to manage, your goals, and how well you respond to it. For example, when dealing with stress, people can learn relaxation techniques such as visualization, breathing, and meditation

A biofeedback device is used to measure physiological signals. For the biofeedback techniques to be effective, people must play an active role in their training. They would need to practice between training sessions on a regular basis. Otherwise, they can’t make use of the benefits of this alternative medicine.

How Can Biofeedback Help Men with Prostate Problems?

Preoperative biofeedback therapy proved effective in curbing erectile dysfunction (ED) and urinary incontinence (UI) in male patients after radical prostatectomy

This therapy aims to provide conscious contraction of the pelvic floor muscle region, thus offering the patient better control over their ED and UI symptoms. 

Even if ED and UI do occur, men who took part in biofeedback perineal strengthening protocols had an easier time managing these prostate problems. They could better manage their muscle relaxation and recognize their physiological activity. 

This treatment can also effectively reduce blood pressure in people with essential hypertension. For men who haven’t controlled their high blood pressure for years, their risk for stroke goes through the roof. So, biofeedback can help with muscle tension, provide adequate body and mind relaxation, and curb blood pressure.

Benefits of Biofeedback for Men

With age comes a series of health problems, including prostate troubles. In men, these problems can profoundly impact their day-to-day lives. 

That’s where biofeedback comes into play. It paves the way for several benefits, making it a viable option for treating a range of health issues. Take a look at the benefits below.

Controlling the Urge to Go to the Bathroom

Reports indicate that this method offered a 76% to 82% reduction in urinary incontinence. That’s why it is recommended for treating mixed incontinence, urge incontinence, and stress incontinence

Another study supports these results. Experts assessed 27 patients who previously had an incontinent radical prostatectomy. The goal was to see if a biofeedback training program could help achieve better continence. 

Of all patients, 48% experienced complete success, 26% noticed a drastic improvement, and 26% failed to achieve positive results. The total improvement rate was 74%. 

The biofeedback method proved to be a well-accepted and effective option for improving urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy.

Increasing Peripheral Blood Flow

As the patient relaxes properly, their blood flow improves, and peripheral blood vessels expand. “Peripheral” refers to the blood vessels outside the brain and heart, like the legs and arms. But, it can also affect the sexual organs, like the penis. 

Providing Anxiety Relief 

Anxiety and stress can lead to a cycle of ED. In fact, both stress and anxiety have a fundamental impact on the development of problems with erectile dysfunction. 

Biofeedback therapy might help with that. The therapy helps men become more aware of their responses to psychological stressors so that they can effectively learn how to control them. 

Curbing Headaches

Roughly 1% of men have a chronic form of migraine. These men have a migraine attack more than 15 days a month. And 50% tend to overuse painkillers to keep the chronic pain in check

Reports indicate that biofeedback effectively decreases the severity and frequency of headaches. It can also help men decrease their dependence on meds. So, this treatment may offer solid relief for those dealing with a tension headache. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

This form of treatment is considered generally safe. So far, there are no negative adverse reactions. But, biofeedback therapy might not be for everyone. It’s best to consult with a health care expert to know whether you can make use of this complementary therapy. 

Also, more research is necessary to evaluate its full benefits. So, consulting with a specialist before treatment should remain a top priority. Another thing to point out is that this form of therapy is meant to complement conventional medical care – not replace it. 

Many patients are using biofeedback alongside other treatments. For instance, a man with chronic pain can use pain meds and practice biofeedback. The goal is to keep using the prescribed medication so that patients can properly manage their condition. 

Conclusion

Many healthcare experts suggest biofeedback therapy. And for a good reason. This complementary method can boost wellness and overall health. But, biofeedback therapy can also come in handy for prostate problems and stress. 

With adequate training and education, you can tackle a specific bodily function and ease the symptoms. If you are eager to try biofeedback, consult a qualified expert and check their credentials. It’s important to talk to a specialist you can trust so that you can reap the results.

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Sources

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  2. Malik K, Dua A. Biofeedback. [Updated 2021 Oct 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553075/
  3. Perez FSB, Rosa NC, da Rocha AF, Peixoto LRT, Miosso CJ. Effects of Biofeedback in Preventing Urinary Incontinence and Erectile Dysfunction after Radical Prostatectomy. Front Oncol. 2018;8:20. Published 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834912/
  4. Rice BI. Clinical benefits of training patients to voluntarily increase peripheral blood flow: the WarmFeet intervention. Diabetes Educ. 2007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17570875/
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  6. Rossi P, Nappi G. Migraine in men: fact sheet. A publication to mark European Migraine Day of Action 2014. Funct Neurol. 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264780/
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