Although stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is traditionally thought of as a female problem, it is actually not uncommon to come across a man who suffers from male stress incontinence.
The mechanism behind the stress incontinence in both sexes is the same: a weakness in the ring of muscles surrounding the opening of the bladder. When the pressure in the pelvis around the bladder increases, due to straining, this ring of muscles, called the sphincter, gives way and lets a variable amount of urine leak.
What Causes Male Stress Incontinence?
The commonest cause of male stress incontinence is damage of the sphincter muscles during the removal of the prostate, a male gland which wraps around the tube carrying the urine from the bladder to the outside.
The prostate gland is removed either because it enlarges and compresses the flow of urine, or because it has a malignant tumor in it. Procedures aimed to treat benign prostatic enlargement are many such as TRUP (Trans Urethral resection of Prostate) and prostatectomy (removal of prostate). While these may cause stress incontinence, it still is a rare occurrence.
Malignant tumors (cancers) necessitate a surgery known as radical prostatectomy, where the whole of the prostate is removed along with some neighboring tissue (the seminal vesicles). Radical prostatectomy is commonly followed by male stress incontinence. In fact, as much as 90% of patients complain developing incontinence after radical prostatectomy. The good news is, most of these complaints will be only temporarily.
Can Male Stress Incontinence Be Treated?
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are the mainstay of treatment in male stress incontinence. These exercises, also known as Kegel’s exercises, are aimed at strengthening the bladder’s sphincter and therefore allowing it to seal off the bladder better.
Male stress incontinence, like its female counterpart, can be greatly improved through strengthening the sphincter muscles: the ring-like fibers looping around the exit of the urinary bladder.
Sphincter muscles are part of a group called the pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening the pelvic floor reflects positively on the strength of the sphincter and greatly improves stress incontinence. It is estimated that anywhere between five and twenty five percent of men who suffer from post-prostatectomy stress incontinence (stress incontinence after prostate surgery) will show marked improvement within four to six weeks after the procedure.
Dealing with Male Stress Incontinence
Suffering from male stress incontinence does not have to reduce the quality of your life. There are a variety of measures you can adopt in order to live life fully, unhindered by the occasional leaks you suffer from:
- Visit your doctor and talk to them about your symptoms. They are the best judge on whether or not you need to alter your lifestyle or medication regimen to reduce he urinary leaks.
- Be diligent with your pelvic floor exercises, even if at first you see no improvement. These usually take effect in six to eight months time.
- Do wear protective incontinence products designed to absorb the leaked urine and save you from embarrassment. You may start with cup shaped pads specific to fit the male’s body and move on to more absorbent products if you feel you need more protection.
- If you are reluctant or feel embarrassed about shopping for incontinence pads you can get them online and have them discreetly delivered to your door step.