Not so fun fact: male incontinence is common, and over 5 million men suffer from urinary incontinence. For many of you, your incontinence is related to post-prostate surgery. The good news is that sometimes, over time the incontinence may go away.
The important thing to remember is that short term or long, male incontinence doesn’t have to put the brakes on living. You can still enjoy just about everything you like to do, even have a fulfilling sex life. Incontinence does not equal impotence.
Since we’re talking about more than a little post-pee dribble, what are some of your options to help stop the embarrassment and discomfort of urinary incontinence? What lifestyle changes can you make to help turn your incontinence into something more manageable? What are some pharmaceutical, surgical and non-surgical solutions? This article offers you real-life information and answers. Let’s get started.
One of the most common kinds of male incontinence is stress incontinence. Since you’re a male, we can safely rule out pregnancy and childbirth as potential causes and concentrate on male-oriented specifics.
Tips for managing male incontinence
Tip #1. The problem with prostates: Here’s a quick anatomy lesson. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra. Its main function is to protect and nourish sperm (you don’t need nourished sperm to have a great sex life). The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body. As men get older, the prostate gland usually gets larger, sometimes cancerous, and can squeeze the urethra shut. Radiation treatment or complete removal of the prostate may be necessary – a prostatectomy. That can severely weaken the muscles surrounding the urethra and you can get embarrassing, uncomfortable and usually uncontrollable leakage. What’s a guy to do?
Tip #2. Extra pounds can mean extra peeing: We all know that carrying more weight than you should leads to all sorts of health hazards: heart problems, high blood pressure, overly stressed painful joints. All that unnecessary weight also puts unnecessary strain on your urinary tract. So you can leak, sometimes even flood. If you lose weight, you could gain greater control of your urinary functions.
Tip #3. Some medications may cause incontinence: A number of very common meds could be worsening your problem: drugs for high blood pressure, some antidepressants, diuretics, and some sleeping pills. If you’re incontinent and taking drugs like these, please talk to your doctor.
Tip #4. Your prostate isn’t the only cause: Stroke. Parkinson’s. Diabetes. These are very serious conditions that can affect your entire body. Your urinary system is no exception. The reality is these conditions, along with their inherent dangers, make having incontinence much more likely.
Tip #5. Watch out for some of those vitamins: Mega doses of vitamin B supplements as well as C supplements can increase your risk of an incontinence episode. The upside of taking vitamins may be more problematic than not taking them. Talk to your doctor about the amount amount of vitamins you take.
Tip #6. Ease up on alcohol and caffeine: It’s common sense. Beer, soda, coffee, and tea respectively contain alcohol and caffeine. These are all urinary system irritants. The more you drink beverages with these irritants, the more you pee, the more you pee, the more stress you put on your urinary system. And the more likely you are to have an “accident.”
Tip #7. The not-so-happy hour: There are more issues with alcohol. One of the reasons people like to drink wine, beer, scotch, a cocktail – anything with alcohol – is (A) they taste good and (B) they can help relax you. (B) is a potential problem if you have incontinence. The alcohol that relaxes your mind also can relax the sphincter muscle that helps control urination. You could have a major episode.
Tip #8. Water is your friend: In contrast to the points above, do drink water. It dilutes the irritants in your urine and is much more bladder friendly.
Tip #9. Laughter isn’t always the best medicine: Laughing is great, and may have health benefits. That said, anytime you add physical stress to your urinary system you increase the chances of having incontinence. Think about what happens to your body when you laugh, cough or sneeze really hard. Your abdomen and bladder areas tighten. That means your bladder can get squeezed and you could have sizeable leakage. Not funny.
Tip #10. Exercise can help: Very specific exercises can help with incontinence. Working your urinary control muscles – using Kegel exercises – can make a big difference. The Mayo Clinic offers this exercise regimen: Tighten your urinary muscles for 3 seconds and relax for 3. Gradually build up to ten reps, 3 times a day.
Tip #11. But no heavy lifting: While the Kegels are an excellent exercise, any kind of uber-bench pressing, free weight lifting or heavily loaded weight machines is going to put tremendous pressure on your bladder and urethra with potentially disastrous leakage not far behind. So light weights, please. If your prostate is removed, give yourself a break. Take time to heal. And please talk to your doctor before hitting the gym.
Tip #12. You can go the surgical route. Depending on the seriousness of your incontinence, a surgeon might decide to place an artificial inflatable sphincter around the urethra. You can pump it closed using an implant in your scrotum. That pumping action “clamps down” on urinary leakage. There’s also a male sling made of synthetic mesh that aids in urinary control.
Tip #13. Speaking of surgery: Your physician might talk to you about a Foley catheter or a urethral scope in relation to your incontinence. They both involve inserting a tiny tube into your penis. So please have a thorough discussion with your doctor about their potential complications.
Tip #14. You can go the medication route. Your doctor may recommend some very specific types of medication to help with stress and urge incontinence. Medicines like anticholinergics and other drugs may help give you the control you need. Again, talk to your doctor.
Tip #15. Watch out for skin sensitivity. Leakage and post-urinal flow can do more than wet and stain your pants. You could develop skin irritation, rashes and perhaps a fungus, as well as irritations around the perineal area – the place between your anus and scrotum. Any additional pressure in this area could cause problems, too.
Tip #16. Break the cycle of leakage: Riding a bike can put a sizable amount of pressure on your groin. But you can have male incontinence and still cycle. So it’s important you get the right kind of seat. More specifically a style called the “no-nose” seat. It supports your butt and eases the pressure in your groin.
Tip #17. Dress it up: How your package hangs can make a difference in keeping your incontinence in check. If you dress left or right, gravity is working against you because you’re already hanging down making it easier for urine to escape. If you dress straight up, gravity is working for you because you’ve basically created an upright tube. That makes it more difficult for the urine to leave your body.
Tip #18. Let’s be brief: When it comes to incontinence, tighty whities, or bluies or redies or whatever color you like are the underwear of choice. The thing that makes a difference is the snug fit. It offers you a little more support than you get with free-swinging boxers. Go with the briefs.
So, what to put in your pants?
So, what’s a guy to do? We’ve talked a lot about what can cause incontinence, some exercises, and other valuable pieces of information. Now, let’s talk practicality.
Tip #19. Don’t paper over it: Shoving a wad of toilet paper behind your fly won’t do anything. Toilet paper is flimsy and pretty much disintegrates when it gets wet.
Tip #20. We won’t judge, but it’s not made for that: If you feel desperate, you could try a feminine pad. It might work. But a feminine pad is meant to absorb blood, which is much thicker than urine. So the urine has a pretty good chance of soaking right through.
Tip #21. The classic klutz maneuver: If you do have an episode, be resourceful – be clumsy on purpose. You can always spill a beverage in your own lap to camouflage the leak, and then excuse yourself to deal with the situation.
Tip #22. Diapers are for something else: There are adult diapers. They may be effective, but who wants to feel like you’re wearing a sack of plastic under your pants?
Tip #23. Use the right tool for the job: Think about using a strong, discreet trouser insert specifically designed to absorb any leakage.
Any way you look at it, incontinence is more than a post-surgical or neurological inconvenience. It’s unpredictable, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. Hopefully this article has given you some fresh perspective, some new knowledge and valuable tips and tools to help you have fewer episodes, less discomfort, less embarrassment, and more ways to cope. Think about what you’ve learned here and put it into practice. You can help control what seems to be uncontrollable.