What is male urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence (UI) is a condition characterized by the loss of bladder control that is frequent in older men. Typical for early UI is accidental leaking urine, a phenomenon that can reach more severe dimensions affecting daily life activities. Therefore, a man with a progressed UI might have an uncontrollable urge to urinate, sometimes finding it hard to reach a toilet in time.
Urinary incontinence is neither inevitable nor a disease
Although common in age-advanced men, UI does not necessarily always come with getting older. There are guidelines and tips to prevent it in its early stages. Besides, UI is not a disease but rather a symptom or a syndrome for which another condition is responsible. Therefore, treating a potential underlying condition could reverse UI. If UI progresses, it might be a sign that you have ignored a potentially serious underlying cause. It is vital to tackle UI in its early stages where simple lifestyle changes can manage the condition efficiently.
Causes of male urinary incontinence
As mentioned previously, UI is the result of another condition. Finding the primary cause is necessary to control UI and even reverse it back to normal. Generally, unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking, being physically inactive, or drinking excessive alcohol, can predispose an individual to UI.
Other conditions that may cause UI are some of the following:
1 Obesity and constipation.
2 Chronic or relapsing urinary tract or bladder infections.
3 Obstructive pathologies of the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.
4 A weak pelvic floor.
5 Weak muscles of the bladder.
6 Neurogenic bladder, such as in the case of long-standing, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus
Types of urinary incontinence
UI, widely classified as temporary and persistent, might be of different types. Knowing the specific type of UI is significant before choosing the correct and suitable therapeutic interventions.
Experts classify UI in the following way, based on the underlying conditions and the symptoms of the patient:
1 Urgency incontinence. Urgency incontinence appears suddenly. The individual typically experiences an urge to urinate, which is followed by accidental urine leakage.
2 Functional incontinence. Functional incontinence is not true incontinence as the individual finds it hard to reach the toilet in time due to exogenous parameters, such as physical disability.
3 Stress incontinence. Stress incontinence does not refer to psychogenic stress but to somatic ones, such as when a person sneezes or coughs.
4 Transient incontinence. Transient incontinence is due to a temporary and treatable condition, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). The symptoms of incontinence last as long as the infection persists. The individual finds relief upon the treatment of the underlying UTI, whether it’s minor and can be treated by antibiotics or more severe, leading to the need for treatment from a private urologist.
5 Overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is when the bladder is full and cannot sustain any more urine. The result is urine leakage.
6 Mixed Incontinence. This type of UI is when more than one of the above types coexist.
Eight things men can do to control urinary incontinence:
Although UI is a common condition that usually accompanies aging in men, hopefully, there are plenty of ways to manage it.
1. Manage your fluids intake
For most men, lifestyle interventions such as timing drink consumption lead to an essential change in their incontinence issues. For example, drinking smaller amounts of fluids instead of drinking large quantities at once could lead to better bladder control.
Also, avoiding consuming fluids before bedtime might prevent accidental leaking urine in the middle of the night. Managing when and how much you drink is the very first and essential step in controlling UI.
2. Start doing some Kegel exercises
Pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercises might help you regain control of your bladder. This type of exercise technique focuses on the muscles of your pelvic floor, meaning the ones surrounding your bladder. Efficiently controlling these muscles could result in dramatic improvement.
3. Live a healthier life
If you smoke or drink, it might finally be time to stop and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Introduce the physical activity to your daily schedule, and you’ll soon notice that most of your health issues will improve, including UI. Being physically active might also help treat obesity and get rid of constipation, both potential causes of UI.
4. Get prescribed some medication
If your UI persists, it might be necessary for you to talk with your doctor and depending on their feedback, start on medication. Certain drugs, such as anticholinergics, can calm an overactive bladder by relaxing its muscles. In the case of prostate enlargement, doctors usually prescribe alpha-blockers. ‘
Mirabegron is another drug able to make your bladder more load-resistant in terms of how much urine it can hold. Another popular therapy uses injectable Botox to calm down your bladder muscles. Medical treatment depends on the underlying cause of the condition and might be either therapeutic or symptomatic. This is only generalized health information and you should always consult your doctor for personal medical advice.
5. Try out some incontinence underwear for men
Incontinence underwear for men is an option for men experiencing light incontinence. These individuals are usually active males who are out and about all day. Men’s incontinence briefs offer more flexibility and many report a higher level of comfort than absorbent pads, especially when participating in more high-intensity activity like running or cycling.
6. Discuss catheters or urinary collection systems
A catheter is a thin and long tube that doctors insert via the urethra into the bladder to help in urine elimination. Urinary collecting systems are like condoms that cover the penis and collect the leaked urine. Both methods carry the risk of urinary tract infections if used for a long time.
7. Get informed about bulking agents or surgery
Bulking agents are injectable synthetic materials that doctors supply to the walls of your urethra to make it resistant to urine leakage. Surgery is usually the last option and consists of techniques that strengthen your bladder’s neck to prevent urine from leaking out.
There are two widely-approved procedures:
1 The sling procedure.
2The artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) balloon procedure.
8. Try out some natural home remedies
Various studies support the effectiveness of natural home remedies against UI.
The following are some herbal treatments you might find helpful in controlling your bladder:
b Lingzhi mushroom – Lingzhi mushroom or Ganoderma lucidum might help men with UI get a better International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS).
c Cornsilk – Cornsilk, or Zea mays, might strengthen the muscles of the bladder, managing UI better.
d Capsaicin – Research suggests that capsaicin increases peak bladder capacity.
Bio: Anna Williams is a former aged care support worker, and has spent many years advocating for better mental and physical health care within the aged care community. She now writes content for Zorbies, volunteers locally, and enjoys long bushwalks on her weekends and spending time with her two pups, Tommy and Zadie.