According to the National Association for Continence, 15% of men over the age of 60 suffer from stress incontinence. When managing stress incontinence, it is important to be aware of the main causes and treatment methods available for combatting the problem.
What is stress incontinence?
Stress incontinence occurs when movements that put pressure on the bladder cause accidental leakage. Although many people associate stress incontinence with women, it is important for men to be aware of the condition and how to manage it. Stress incontinence in men often occurs through exercise such as running and activities such as coughing and laughing. People often confuse stress incontinence with urge incontinence, and it is important to know the differences. The main difference between the two is that stress incontinence causes accidental leaks when added pressure is put on the bladder. In urge incontinence, however, you have an urgent need to go to the bathroom and cannot make it in time. Men suffering from stress incontinence do not necessarily feel that they need to go the bathroom, however, their bladder will leak involuntarily.
What are the Causes of Stress Incontinence in Men?
The common causes of stress incontinence in men are the following:
Excessive Weight Gain
Any excess weight you are carrying can further strain the pelvic floor muscles, weakening them. The pelvic floor muscles support most of your body weight. Weak pelvic floor muscles do not support the bladder and bowel as efficiently as they should. Significantly obese individuals may notice leakage doing activities such as coughing and exercising.
When men have an enlarged prostate, it can block the urethra and cause involuntary leakage. In fact, Due to the sensitive location of the Prostate, the surgical removal of the Prostate causes disruption of either the anatomic continence mechanism or the nerves that influence controlled urination. A main cause of stress urinary incontinence in men results from a procedure to remove a benign or a cancerous Prostate that has become enlarged, resulting in difficulties with controlling urination and preventing leaks.
Diabetes can affect your ability to control the muscles that open and close your bladder. Frequent urination is often then a consequence, which can lead to stress incontinence. Diabetes often makes the bladder overactive, causing stress incontinence when added pressure is applied to the bladder.
Pay Attention to Temporary Causes…
In addition to stress incontinence being caused by certain diseases and conditions, it has been proven to be caused by a number of small or temporary causes. Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol is a huge well known bladder irritant that can cause leakage in those who already have a weak pelvic floor. Additionally, constipation is a huge temporary cause of stress incontinence. Having a urinary tract infection or mental reasons such as dealing with depression or anxiety are additional causes.
Certain medications you have been prescribed can be another possible cause of incontinence. You should look out for over-the-counter cold medications that contain antihistamines or decongestants, diuretics used to treat high blood pressure and some medications used to treat depression. If you find you are experiencing leaks after being prescribed these medications, you should go approach the concern with your Doctor.
Treating Stress Incontinence in Males
Talking to a Doctor is an important start in pinpointing the culprit of your incontinence. They will be able to then recommend the ideal method of treatment for you. Whereas urge incontinence is treated pharmacologically, the management of stress incontinence is males is significantly different. The management of male stress urinary incontinence typically consists of both conservative measures and surgical therapies. Conservative methods include injection of urethral bulking agents and pelvic floor muscle exercises. Options of surgical therapy can include treatment such as implantation of male slings and the artificial urinary sphincter.
If you are recommended surgical therapy for managing stress incontinence, your physician can perform diagnostic tests to evaluate the function and the exact cause of the leakage. Your physician will likely perform a physical exam and medical history. Other tools such as a urine flow test, blood tests, cystoscopy, and urodynamic testing may be used to develop a clearer picture.
Lifestyle Changes You Can Make
You can make a number of changes at home to help treat your condition. These changes can be as simple as limiting fluid intake at night time and avoiding known bladder irritants such as caffeine and alcohol. It is also recommended that you frequently try pelvic floor exercises. You may also want to try urinating more often to reduce the amount of urine that leaks and making your bowel movements more regular by taking dietary fibre or laxatives to avoid constipation. Avoiding food and drinks that irritate the bladder, such as spicy foods, carbonated drinks, and citrus fruits can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Quitting smoking to reduce coughing and bladder irritation can also help you to prevent unwanted leaks.
The fact that incontinence is often thought of as a taboo subject holds many men back from finding treatment. A large proportion of men avoid even talking about stress incontinence or attempting to try treatment methods to help the condition. Gordon Muir, Consultant Urologist at King’s College Hospital asserts, “Men will just not talk about it, so no-one really knows the true extent. It is an unrecognized and embarrassing problem which can ruin lives”. However, when dealing with stress incontinence, men should feel positive about the increasing number of treatment methods available to them. It is important to be fully equipped for any accidental leaks. You can read our blog for guidance on how to choose a male incontinence product.
It is important to remember that with the correct stress incontinence products and treatment methods, your quality of life and dignity can be restored.