The Inner Workings of Incontinence in Men
Dealing with incontinence can be a very distressing experience for anyone, and when faced with this challenge, it is important to understand how the urinary excretory system is supposed to work to help better understand what occurs with incontinence in men. The overall picture of the excretory system is pretty straightforward, and it involves only four main body organs. The bladder and urethra are where most problems leading to incontinence in men occur, and they are at the end of the urinary excretory process. At the beginning of the process are the kidneys and ureters.
The kidneys are brilliant at filtering out any toxins, excess fluids and salt from the bloodstream, and the waste is neatly packaged in the form of urine that is moved from the kidneys to the urethra for efficient removal from the body. The first organs to get busy cleaning the bloodstream are the kidneys, and they are charged with keeping the chemical elements in the bloodstream balanced. Whether it is the acid base or salt to water ratio the kidneys help to regulate the blood’s chemistry. Along with maintaining the proper chemical balances in the blood, the kidneys are also essential for pulling waste from the blood, and as a matter of fact the filtration systems that the kidneys provide are so important, that at least one kidney is necessary for survival.
At the bottom of each kidney is a ureter, and together they work like drains for the kidneys. The ureters are instrumental in moving the urine that is produced in the kidneys along to the bladder. Each ureter is a long, narrow tube, which measures about 25 cm. The muscles along the walls of the ureter help to constantly deliver urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Upon entering the bladder, urine can only move in one direction, and when the bladder is about one third full, nerve endings signal the brain that it will need to empty soon. The male bladder is almost twice as large as a female’s bladder holding 800 ml or so of urine, and it is able to hold the urine for about twice as long as a female’s bladder. There are two sphincter muscles that release urine from the bladder. One is involuntary, and the other is voluntary. Nerve endings will trigger the relaxation of the involuntary sphincter, while the voluntary sphincter can be trained to tense and relax at will. The muscles that control the urine flow from the bladder surround the urethra and are known as the urethral sphincter. When the urethral sphincter is relaxed, urine flows freely from the bladder into the urethra for excretion..
The bladder muscle itself is extremely pliable. It is supported by the pelvic floor muscles, and it is tucked neatly between the pubic bone and the rectum. When urine leaves the bladder, it exits the body through the urethra, which is about 18 cm in length in a man. Since a male’s urethra is so much longer than a woman’s, and because their bladder is capable of holding more urine for longer periods of time, it only stands to reason that men also have much stronger sphincter muscles than women.
Surrounding the urethra, men have a prostate gland, and as it enlarges with age, it is one of the prime contributors to incontinence in men. Of course, there are many other underlying causes for incontinence in men, like injury, illness or genetics, but an enlarged prostate gland exerting undue pressure on the urethra is one of the most common complaints leading to incontinence in men.
Filed under: Incontinence in Men