It is estimated that approximately 6 million people in the UK experience incontinence at some time. Although women have a higher chance of experiencing incontinence, the loss of bladder control is still relatively common among men with studies estimating that 5 to 15% of men living at home above the age of 60, and 2 to 15 % of men between the ages of 15 to 64, are affected by incontinence.
Amongst younger men, the incontinence is often related to prostate cancer surgery, with about 50% of men who undergo prostate removal surgery experiencing leakage of urine during the first six weeks after surgery. At the end of the first year post surgey, about 20% will continue having a significant problem with leakage, or stress incontinence. Kegel or pelvic floor exercises, in which you squeeze and hold the muscles you'd use to stop urination aren't just for women and can be helpful for this type of incontinence. A small 2010 Italian study suggests that men who do them for one month before prostate removal surgery have less incontinence after.
As men age, the prostate gland grows. It is estimated that around 60% of men who are aged 60 or over have some degree of prostate enlargement or symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). This is a medical term that simply means a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. The prostate gland wraps around the urethra (the bladder outlet), so an enlarged prostate can constrict or block the urethra and thus flow or urine. This is known as prostatic obstruction. Prostatic obstruction can compromise the bladder’s ability to effectively empty, causing urine retention. This contributes to urgency and frequency because the bladder still signals that it needs emptying. If left untreated, the bladder can become distended, worsening its ability to contract and completely empty. It is possible to have prostatic obstruction even if the prostate is not enlarged.
Men can also experience Urge incontinence or overactive bladder (OAB), with the sudden and urgent need to urinate, having to urinate frequently, and even having to get up at night to go to the bathroom. Overactive Bladder in older women often results in incontinence, whereas men are more likely to be bothered by frequency of urination. This can be further aggravated by an enlarged prostate. For this reason, men may be prescribed a combination of drugs aimed at treating symptoms of OAB and BPH.
Incontinence and problems with urination in themselves are not diseases but symptoms that can relate to a wide number of causes. Therefore, it is important to understand that there’s no reason why incontinence or any difficulty with urinating has to be accepted as if it were something that has no remedy and to discuss your symptoms with a health professional should be able to help diagnose the cause or causes.
You should seek treatment for your bladder control problem when you are not able to control your bladder or bowel as you once did or when the frequency or urgency to urinate is interfering with the quality of your life. It is also important to use an appropriate pad or pant product for male incontinence to assist in the management of this condition whilst it persists.
Read more about incontinence exercises for men.
No matter what type of Incontinence you or the person you care for is experiencing it is important you discuss this with a Health Professional. Incontinence is often a symptom of an underlying condition and in many cases simple steps can help improve the condition.