Incontinence in Men

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • Why is it that men (and women, for that matter) can talk about erectile dysfunction with relative ease and comfort, but mention anything about pee and everyone goes running for the hills? Maybe it’s because I’m a woman and incontinence is more common in women, but I tend to address the issues women face with incontinence more often than I address the issues that men face. However, I want to take time in this entry to really focus on what incontinence means for men.

    September 18-23 was Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, so now’s as good a time as any to talk about pee, already! Prostate cancer is all too common amongst men, especially men over 60. In June I wrote a blog about prostate conditions that you can refer to for more information, so I don’t just want to repeat what I already said. To briefly recap, however, prostate cancer is often treated with prostate surgery. That surgery can often lead to incontinence, which is sadly a little-known fact amongst men facing prostate surgery. While they’re relieved to have treated the cancer, many men are shocked to be dealing with incontinence when they assumed they’d be able to resume their normal, active lives.
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    To understand the daily issues men face when living with incontinence, I’m trying to put myself in their place. So what might a “normal, active” life look like for a man, especially a man over 60? The men I know in their 60s are sometimes retired, sometimes still working, usually have a family and sometimes grandchildren who they like to spend time with, might enjoy golfing, taking walks, fishing, and traveling. I know there’s a lot more than just that list, but the common denominator with almost all of these activities is that incontinence would be a great impediment. So what’s a man to do, with an active life to lead and a leaky bladder?

    It might seem like one of the hardest things you ever have to do, but at some point you have to bite the bullet and talk to your doctor about the incontinence you’re experiencing. As I said earlier, we can talk about erectile dysfunction, but not pee? C’mon people… it’s all about getting a healthy, functioning body that allows us to live our lives! After discussing your symptoms, your doctor will be able to suggest different treatment options. There are absorbent products designed especially for men… try asking the nurse to recommend brands that other men have found helpful for an active lifestyle. There are also medications that your doctor might recommend. There are some surgical options you might wish to consider. You might also find that kegal exercises are helpful (your doctor or nurse can explain the correct technique for this). Also keep in mind that in many cases, incontinence will go away on its own a while after the prostate surgery.

    If you have an active life to live, don’t let a silly little thing like pee get in your way. A response to my previous blog reminds us all how fortunate we are for the progress the incontinence industry has made. Twenty years ago there weren’t nearly as many options for controlling incontinence… pretty much just absorbent products – and even those made more noise under clothing and absorbed less urine, resulting in leakage more often. Utilize the expertise of your medical team and the advances of modern technology to live the best life you can, with or without incontinence.

  • Learn more about the effects of prostate cancer.

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  • Read prostate cancer expert patient Christopher Lukas' blog.

Published On: October 12, 2006