Although women are twice as likely as men to experience incontinence, that doesn’t mean that we should ignore our male counterparts when it comes to this life-altering condition. As always, it’s hard to find stats on incontinence, but one UK site reported that 5 to 7% of men under 64 and 10 to 20% of men over 64 experience some kind of urinary leakage. The Men’s Health Network, a non-profit committed to improving the health and wellness of men, has declared this as Men’s Health Week. With Father’s Day right around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better to think about the men in our lives.
Men, as well as women, can experience incontinence for a variety of reasons. However, one of the major contributing causes to incontinence in men is prostate problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, “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.” This gland grows in almost all men as they age. In some cases, the enlargement can become troublesome--a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is a common problem, affecting more than 50% of men in their sixties. BPH has many symptoms that vary from person to person, and it can be treated in many different ways. Depending on the severity of symptoms, BPH can be managed with lifestyle changes, medication or surgery, and some of these treatments, especially surgery, can lead to incidences of incontinence.
BPH is benign, meaning non-cancerous. When there are malignant changes in the prostate gland, it is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among men, but when discovered and treated early-on, prostate cancer is often very treatable. As with BPH, many of the treatment options for prostate cancer can lead to varying degrees of incontinence. You can imagine that many men find themselves very frustrated to then be living with a leaky bladder.
There’s been a lot said recently about the pressures on women who care for everyone else before themselves. Although it maybe isn’t said quite as often, I notice a lot of men who also carry this burden as they try to provide for a spouse or children, and be the “strong backbone” of the family. Men, I ask you this week to take time to care for your own needs. Why go through life leaking urine when it may be easily treatable? And don’t forget that incontinence can be a symptom of a more serious problem. Fathers, brothers, husbands and friends… this Men’s Health Week, please put your own health high on your list of priorities, and see a doctor! We need you around to be an active part of our lives.
Published On: June 13, 2006