Stress incontinence – a condition in which you leak urine every time a physical activity puts pressure on your bladder – isn’t a women-only condition, it can affect men of all ages too. And many men know this, because they suffer from it; but they hardly talk about it with their family or their friends or even their doctors.
Here’s what a urologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, has to say about the situation:
“I see men with stress incontinence, or bladder leakage problems, who are not aware of the many treatment options that can help manage their leakage problems. It keeps them from doing the activities they love. I help these men who are not older than me (62 years) get back to their hobbies of biking, hiking, running with their grandkid on their shoulders, throwing around the football, setting up indoor game clubs or doing whatever activity they like best, again.”
As he rightly said, there are many treatment options for getting your bladder leakage problems back under control. The first step is to reach out to your doctor who can find the cause behind your stress incontinence and suggest some helpful strategies and treatment options.
But before that, let’s understand the causes of urinary incontinence in men, so you can find the right treatment for you accordingly.
How stress incontinence works in men
Stress incontinence is one of the many types of urinary incontinence that occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the bladder and control the flow of urine are weakened or injured. To understand the nature of stress incontinence, let’s take a quick science lesson.
The bladder is a hollow organ that holds your body’s urine until you are ready to relieve yourself. Typically, urinary sphincter, which is a ring of muscles that controls the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra stays closed as the bladder fills up, preventing urine leakage until you reach a restroom. In simple words, the sphincter acts as a guard that prevents the passage of urine.
But when this sphincter is weakened or injured, anything that puts pressure on the abdominal and pelvic muscles, such as sneezing, coughing, bending over, or a hearty laugh for example, can put pressure on your bladder and cause urine leakage in men.
Causes of male stress incontinence
So, what can weaken the muscles that support the bladder and control the flow of urine? Here are some common causes of male incontinence:
Prostate surgery: Removal or damage to the prostate gland during surgery for prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate.
Age: As men age, the muscles that support the bladder can weaken, making it more difficult to control urine flow.
Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the bladder and weaken the muscles that support it.
Chronic coughing: Conditions such as smoking or asthma that can cause frequent coughing can weaken the muscles that control the bladder.
Neurological conditions: Conditions that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, can interfere with the signals between the brain and the bladder, causing urinary incontinence.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy for prostate cancer can damage the muscles and nerves that control the bladder, resulting in stress incontinence.
Diagnosis of Male Stress Incontinence
So now you’re at your doctor’s, here’s how the diagnosis for male stress incontinence will look like – it typically involves a complete medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests, including:
Your doctor will inquire about the symptoms you are facing, your medical history, medications, and any previous surgeries.
A physical exam to check for any abnormalities in the pelvic region, such as signs of prostate cancer or damage to the urinary sphincter muscle.
A urine sample will be checked by lab technicians for signs of infections, traces of blood, or other abnormalities.
Urine stress test:
Your doctor will observe your urine loss when you cough or sneeze.
Common cases of stress incontinence usually don’t require additional tests. However, in some cases, your doctor might order additional tests to assess how well your bladder and other organs that control urine flow is functioning. These additional tests are as follows:
Post-void residual (PVR) measurement:
If your doctor suspects that you’re not able to empty your bladder completely, he might order this test. A specialist uses an ultrasound scan to view how much urine is left inside your bladder after you just urinated. In some cases, a catheter – a hollow tube inserted into your bladder to drain urine – is used to drain the remaining urine, which can then be measured.
Typically, a catheter is used to fill your bladder with fluids, and as your bladder fills up slowly, you will be asked to cough or laugh hard to test for leaks. Combined with a pressure flow study, this test can measure your bladder's ability to hold urine, its sensitivity to filling, and your bladder’s leak point pressure.
Video urodynamic studies:
This test is often performed along with cystometry. In this test a fluid that shows up on X-rays is filled in your bladder with a catheter while the imaging is constantly recorded.
A thin flexible tube with a camera on one end is inserted into your bladder to look and examine the insides of your bladder and check for any blockages or abnormalities.
With the diagnosis done, you and your doctor can talk about the treatment options for your condition based on the cause.
Treatment of Male Stress Incontinence
Usually, your doctor will recommend a combination of treatment strategies based on the identified cause. Some doctor recommended male stress incontinence treatments include:
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Contracting and relaxing the muscles that control the flow of urine which can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and urethra, reducing urine leakage.
Healthy lifestyle changes and practices - Maintain a healthy weight, reduce caffeine, alcohol, soda and the consumption of other beverages that irritate your bladder; avoid constipation with high-fiber diet, practice scheduled voiding (emptying your bladder), and quit smoking.
In severe cases of male stress urinary incontinence when exercises and lifestyle changes don’t prove effective, your doctor might recommend surgical procedures, such as:
Artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) implantation
Injectable bulking agents
Adult diapers for male stress incontinence
Lots of men are either unaware or are hesitant to accept the idea of using adult diapers to deal with their incontinence. But not only adult diapers for men and women stop the leaks, but they can also protect your skin from irritation and odor. Best of all, they can help you regain the confidence you lost.
Choose an adult diaper from our vast range keeping the quantum of your urine leaks in mind. For severe stress incontinence, we recommend highly absorbent Friends Premium Adult Dry Pants. Friends Premium Pants:
offer up to 10 hours of protection from wetness, spills, and leakage.
are anti-bacterial and enriched with Aloe Vera extracts to provide skin protection against rashes and infections.
are designed with standing leak guards for extra protection against leaks and side spills.
are designed with worry-free odor-lock technology.
are designed with soft elastic waistband as per the Indian body type to provide a perfect fit.
are available in sizes from M to L, XL, and XXL.
With Friends aapko Azadi Mubarak!
Before we end this blog, a gentle reminder: Incontinence is almost always treatable; take the first step of reaching out!
What are the symptoms of stress incontinence in men?
Symptoms of stress incontinence in men include the involuntary leakage of urine during physical activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or exercise. It can also occur during sexual activity or other movements that put pressure on the bladder.
Can male stress incontinence be cured?
Male stress incontinence can be treated, but a complete cure is not always possible. Treatment options include pelvic floor exercises, medications, voiding devices, and surgery— depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause.
Can male stress incontinence be prevented?
Male stress incontinence can be prevented to some extent by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and practicing good bladder habits such as emptying the bladder regularly and completely.
Can stress incontinence in men get worse over time?
Yes, stress incontinence in men can worsen over time, particularly if left untreated or if the underlying cause of the condition is not addressed. It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of stress incontinence to prevent the condition from worsening.
Is male stress incontinence common?
Male stress incontinence is less common than female stress incontinence, but it can still affect a significant number of men, particularly those who have undergone prostate surgery or who have other conditions that affect the bladder or urinary system