What is Male Urinary Incontinence?
It’s a taboo subject – no one wants to talk about incontinence. The fact is, the myths of incontinence often obstruct people from getting the help they need to live an active lifestyle. Knowing the truth about incontinence can help relieve any embarrassment of the condition.
Over 2 million men suffer from incontinence. You are not alone.
Bladder (or urinary) incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine. It is a serious problem that men are reluctant to discuss with others. When the muscle (sphincter) that holds the bladder neck closed is not strong enough to retain urine in the bladder, the result is urinary incontinence.
Incontinence may occur when:
- The sphincter is too weak
- The bladder muscles contract strongly
- The bladder is not emptied regularly
In men, urinary incontinence often is related to a medical problem or a treatment involving:
- The prostate gland
- Enlargement prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, BPH)
- Prostate removal due to cancer
What are the types of incontinence?
Stress Incontinence: The accidental release of urine when pressure is applied to the bladder, such as when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something heavy. This is the most common type of incontinence post-prostate cancer.
Urge Incontinence: When the bladder contracts at the wrong time giving you the feeling that you have to urinate immediately even if you may have just emptied your bladder.
Overflow Incontinence: Characterized by leaking when the bladder does not empty properly. This can be due to other medical conditions such as an enlarged prostate or a narrowing of the urethra.
Total Incontinence: Continual leakage of urine due to complete sphincter deficiency.
How does a functioning bladder work?
The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine, the liquid waste produced by the kidneys. Urine passes from each kidney into the bladder through a tube called a ureter. Urine leaves the bladder and exits the body through another tube called the urethra.
As the bladder fills with urine, pressure is exerted on its walls, which you experience as the need to urinate. This triggers the brain to send a message to the layer of muscle that surrounds the inner lining of the bladder, forcing the muscle to contract (tighten) and the urine to flow out of the bladder.
At the same time, the sphincter muscle that surrounds the urethra relaxes, letting the urine flow out of the body. This process requires both nerves and muscles working together to prevent urine leakage. Damage, weakening or injury to either muscles or nerves can result in incontinence.
Incontinence can be caused by:
- Prostate removal
- Infections or medications
- Urethral strictures
- DESD (Detrusor External Sphincter Dyssynergia)
- Pelvic trauma
- Spinal cord damage
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurological disorders
The cause of incontinence and the impact it has on the nerves or muscles will determine the type of incontinence you may have.
Signs of Urinary Incontinence:
Do you leak urine when you:
- Change positions (i.e., sitting or lying to standing)?
Does urine leakage affect your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you think incontinence is preventing you from enjoying life, talk to your doctor. He can diagnose your type of incontinence and help you find the most effective treatment option.