What Is Incontinence?
Millions of men suffer from incontinence each year. It is important to remember that you are not alone! What is Incontinence? Simply defined, Incontinence is “not having control of your bladder or bowels,” but those suffering will tell you that it is not that simple.There are 4 different form of incontinence.
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Overflow incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Stress incontinence: Refers to stress or heavy burden on the pelvic muscles.
- Urge incontinence: Refers to the constant feeling of having to "go".
- Overflow incontinence: Occurs when the body does not send a sufficient signal for timely relief. Symptoms can include either not sensing when “it's time” or too much of a delay in sensing.
- Fecal incontinence: Applies the symptoms and effects of overflow incontinence to bowel-movement process.
Because each of these is unique, they must be handled differently. Please consult your doctor if you feel you are suffering from incontinence as the information below is not meant to treat or diagnose, only to inform.
Symptoms and Causes of Incontinence in Men
As stated above, urinary incontinence is the inability to control ones bladder. Throughout the course of a day, someone not suffering from incontinence should urinate four to eight times a day. This number can change depending on the amount of liquid you drink as well as the amount of food you eat throughout the day. Someone suffering from incontinence will have the urge to go to the bathroom more often. Often, those dealing with incontinence will experience occasional leaks or dribbles, while others may wet their clothes more frequently. Wearing incontinence boxers and briefs by Wearever® can prevent your clothes from getting wet.
It is important to understand that urinary incontinence isn't a disease. It's a symptom. Incontinence can be caused by everyday habits, pre-existing medical conditions or chronic physical problems. If symptoms of incontinence start to appear it is important that you contact your doctor immediately. According to a study done in the UK, 5% to 7% of men under 64 and 10% to 20% of men over 64 experience some kind of urinary leakage. Here at Wearever® Incontinence, we are more than just a product for you, we are your resource for incontinence. There are many causes for Incontinence within men.
- A swollen prostate is one very common cause of incontinence among men. While women are far more likely to suffer from incontinence then men, incontinence does affect a large number of men. The prostate is a male gland about the size and shape of a walnut. It surrounds the urethra just below the bladder, where it adds fluid to semen before ejaculation, as defined by the National Institutes of Health. This gland grows in almost all men as they age and in some cases, the enlargement can become troublesome. As the prostate enlarges with age, it squeezes the urethra, which can often lead to accidental leakages as well as affect the flow during urination.
- Another very common factor for incontinence is having prostate surgery. Immediately following the surgery, your muscles are often temporarily weaker, which can cause stress incontinence. The surgery is a shock to your body and many muscles need to be re-strengthened. With treatment you can start to see improvements with your urine flow and bladder control within 6 months post surgery. If you continue to see symptoms please contact your doctor.
- Urinary tract infections often cause an overactive bladder, which can cause incontinence. A Urinary Tract Infection, aka UTI, is an infection of your urinary tract. Infections have a tendency to irritate your bladder, which causes you to have strong urges to urinate. These urges tend to lead to incontinence and can be a first warning of a UTI. Some other possible signs of a urinary tract infection and symptoms include a burning sensation when you urinate, or foul-smelling urine.
- Weight plays a factor in whether or not you suffer from incontinence. There is a direct correlation between being overweight and incontinence due to the extra weight on your midsection and putting pressure on your bladder. This type of incontinence is classified as stress incontinence.
- Pre-existing medical conditions will often be a cause of incontinence, particularly strokes, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spina bifida, MS, or diabetes. Each of these conditions affects the nervous system of your body, which interrupts your brain from communicating with the muscles in your body.
Who Does Incontinence Affect?
Unlike women, whose incontinence can affect during all age ranges, incontinence in men mostly affects older men suffering from other, preexisting medical conditions. However, younger boys are not immune to incontinence. Younger boys are more common to have nocturnal enuresis, or bedwetting, which is different than incontinence, but can have similar symptoms.
Most men who suffer from incontinence are suffering from additional medical issues such as nerve damage, diabetes or prostate cancer. If you believe you are suffering from incontinence it is important that you contact your doctor.
Common Treatments & Solutions
The most important thing is to talk to, and take your doctor’s advice. Once you have spoken to your doctor and determined that you have incontinence, there are several things you can do to improve your condition. Nothing here should override what a certified doctor instructs. With all that being said, there are some non-medical at-home exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles that lead to incontinence.
Exercises for Beating Incontinence
Kegel Exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic muscles to limit and combat incontinence. There are two types of Kegels, Basic and Advanced. Be sure to start off with Basic before moving on to Advanced Kegels.
- The first thing to do is locate the muscles that control urination and flow. The easiest way to identify these muscles is to begin urinating (over a toilet) and then stop the stream. Hold this for five seconds. The muscles that clench are the ones you should work on developing and strengthening.
- Once you have identified your pelvic muscles, and are away from the toilet, sit on the floor and work on holding the muscles at five-second intervals. Such exercises can literally be practiced anywhere - in the car, in your office, at home watching TV, etc. And the best part – No one else has to know you’re doing them! After this step, then you can move on to more advanced Kegel exercises.
- Deep Flex: The deep flex is more advanced than simply working out the pelvic muscles in five second intervals. The deep flex does involve doing this, but doing it with more intensity. For instance, it involves clenching the pelvic muscles for five-second intervals, gradually trying to work your way up to 10-second intervals. This exercise will strengthen the muscles more quickly.
Getting fit and losing weight are two great ways to improve your continence. By eating better and working out you can get your body in better physical condition, which will relieve some of the stress on your bladder and strengthen your pelvic muscles.
We have compiled a list of incontinence friendly recipes that are not only delicious but also great for improving your incontinence. A study in Tel Aviv showed that magnesium has a positive effect on incontinence. By adding magnesium to your diet, you may see an improvement in your bladder leakage.
Scheduled toilet trips
By going to the bathroom when you want, as opposed to when you have to, you reduce the urge to go throughout the day. Scheduling times to go to the bathroom every two to four hours will help to alleviate your incontinence.
If after consulting your doctor, and trying some of these at-home remedies you feel that you need further treatment, there are several medical procedures that will improve your incontinence, starting with medication. There are several different medications your doctor can prescribe.
There are also some medical devices you can get to help relieve the need to consistently go to the bathroom. Urethral inserts or pessaries are two tools that doctors can prescribe to you.
A last-case scenario is to have surgery. Some commonly used procedures specifically designed for incontinence are:
- Sling procedures: This is when strips of your body tissue, synthetic material or mesh are used to create a pelvic sling around your bladder neck and urethra.
- Bladder neck suspension: This procedure is designed to provide support to your urethra and bladder neck.
- Prostate Surgery: Surgery on the prostate can greatly reduce the levels of incontinence you suffer from. It may take time as the muscles strengthen, but after some time, you’ll start to see improvement.
Lifestyle (Living Your Life)
Don’t let incontinence keep you from living the life you want to live! There are millions of men who suffer from incontinence and still live a normal lifestyle. Incontinence does affect most aspects of your life, but using any of the treatments above can greatly improve your lifestyle in several ways.
Kegel exercises have been known to greatly improve sexual performance in both Men & Women. Practicing kegels has been proven to increase sexual performance by increasing the amount of time it takes for a man to reach full orgasm, as well as a stronger, more intense ejaculation.
When preparing for a trip, there are several things you must plan for if you suffer from incontinence. If any part of your trip involves traveling by airline or bus, we recommend booking early and requesting a reserved seat on the aisle, near a bathroom. Be sure to inquire about baggage restrictions when booking if you require additional space for incontinence boxers or briefs. An extra supply is advisable in the event of delays. Traveling by car should be planned through major routes that offer ample opportunities for restroom breaks.
Additionally, wearing dark colored clothing to help disguise any accidents or leaks will improve your morale, as well as choosing loose fitting clothing that is comfortable and easy to remove.
Most importantly – Make one last trip to the bathroom before you go. Even if you don’t feel like you have to, go just to be sure!
What you can wear
When dealing with incontinence, it is important to protect yourself and your clothes with incontinence underwear. Wearever® Incontinence offers reusable underwear that is good for up to 250 washes. These boxers and briefs are great to wear under all types of clothing and are appropriate for all activities.
Caring for someone with incontinence
If you know someone suffering from incontinence it is important to discuss the condition with them. For full details on how to initiate the conversation and talk with your loved one see our Caregiver’s Page.
It is important for you to know all the facts when dealing with Incontinence. Wearever® has put together a list of other great resources you can use to learn more about Incontinence.