While most health concerns may feel pretty personal, urinary incontinence in men can be difficult to broach. In addition to the stigma surrounding health concerns related to incontinence, it can lead to embarrassing situations should incontinence strike while you’re out in public.
Unless, of course, you just happen to keep a spare pair of pants, underwear, shoes, and socks on hand at all times, in which case, congratulations on being one of the most prepared people in the world. However, even if you are that prepared for anything and everything that could go wrong each day, urinary incontinence can still cause some extremely inconvenient scenarios that are best avoided.
No one wants the discomfort of never knowing when incontinence will strike. Here are some causes, types, signs, and solutions of urinary incontinence in men that can help you evaluate if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence and, if so, what solutions may be most effective for you.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Men
Many different causes can lead to urinary incontinence. Some may have to do with behavioral patterns, whereas others result from conditions outside of anyone’s control. A few of the most common for men are:
- Damage to the nerves in the pelvic floor.
- Holding urine for too long, frequently enough that it damages the bladder.
- Medication side effects.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Infections, including infections that are not directly related to the bladder.
Regardless of the cause, urinary incontinence symptoms are frustrating to many people. Fortunately, there are multiple effective treatment options. What treatment option will be best for you may depend on which type of urinary incontinence you are experiencing. That is why it’s crucial to have an understanding of the common ones.
Types of Urinary Incontinence in Men
Urinary incontinence can have a wide variety of causes and symptoms. Some of the most common types of urinary incontinence in men include:
- Stress incontinence: This type of incontinence usually happens because of changes to the muscles and nerves that are used to keep urine in. In men, it is most often caused by prostate surgery. Additional contributing factors that may make this type of incontinence worse include smoking, chronic coughing, and high-impact activities.
- Overflow incontinence: This type of incontinence is usually caused by some sort of scar tissue. Usually, this type of incontinence leads to taking a long time to urinate, having to use the bathroom frequently, or still not feeling empty after going to the bathroom. In addition, because it is difficult to empty the bladder fully, it may also cause more consistent discomfort than sudden spikes.
- Urge incontinence: This type of incontinence is commonly known as having an overactive bladder. With this type of incontinence, the bladder muscle contracts more frequently than it should, usually very suddenly. This type of incontinence may be caused by a bladder infection or irritation from some types of cancer treatment.
- Total incontinence: For people who experience this type of incontinence, their bladder is constantly leaking urine. Rather than the sphincter muscle being overactive or weakened, it does not work at all to keep urine in.
- Functional incontinence: A rarer type of incontinence, this happens when a person cannot make it to the bathroom in time to urinate, usually due to mobility issues or the inability to find a bathroom in time.
While there are other types of urinary incontinence to be aware of, most men who experience urinary incontinence symptoms will find that their symptoms align with one of these five categories. Now that you’re aware of some of the leading causes and types of urinary incontinence, it’s time to learn about the signs that men may experience.
Signs of Urinary Incontinence in Men
Usually, signs of urinary incontinence in men are directly tied to symptoms. If you notice any of the following issues emerging when you urinate, it may be a good idea to consider potential causes and look into treatment.
- You have to urinate more frequently than you used to, including getting up multiple times during the night.
- Your urine stream is weaker than it used to be, perhaps even to the point that it is more like a drip than a consistent stream.
- Wetting the bed while you sleep.
- Feeling that, even after urination, your bladder is still not completely empty.
- Small amounts of urination happen accidentally throughout the day, such as when you cough or laugh.
- Stopping and starting during the process of urination.
- Feeling like you need to push or otherwise strain to pass urine.
While many of these symptoms may occasionally happen due to lifestyle changes, such as increased hydration leading to increased frequency of urination, they should not be everyday experiences in your day-to-day life. If the symptoms you experience are distressing to you or seem to be lasting more than a few days at a time, that’s a good sign that there may be an underlying issue.
Solutions to Urinary Incontinence in Men
There’s rarely a one-size-fits-all solution for urinary incontinence in men. However, many solutions are available in the form of dietary changes, exercises, and even surgeries. Here are a few of the most popular solutions to urinary incontinence for men and what you should know about each of them.
This type of solution for urinary continence is especially effective for treating patients with urge incontinence, more commonly known as overactive bladder. Bladder training is a type of behavioral therapy that helps patients slowly “re-train” their bladders to contain urine for extended periods.
This is a popular first-line treatment for reducing symptoms of overactive bladder, primarily because it’s non-invasive and can be combined with other strategies to reduce incontinence symptoms without having to undergo a surgical procedure or deal with medication side effects.
Some bladder training strategies include:
- Keeping a bladder diary. This provides a baseline for treatment and helpful context, such as food and drink that may be triggers for incontinence.
- Scheduled bathroom visits. This strategy is focused on slowly extending the amount of time between bathroom visits. It does so by encouraging urination on a frequent schedule so as not to cause discomfort while slowly adjusting the plan to allow for more time between urinations.
- Delayed urination. This strategy focuses on simply delaying urination by a few minutes whenever you feel the urge to go. Some patients may distract themselves during this delay period by counting or practicing grounding techniques.
Fluid Intake Management
Managing fluid intake more closely can help people reduce their symptoms of incontinence. Management may include limiting fluid intake after a specific time in the evening and avoiding fluid intake above 60 ounces per day.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Exercises for the pelvic floor can help strengthen the muscles involved in urination. How effective this strategy is may vary based on the type of incontinence that the patient is experiencing, but in general, it can be a helpful tool to reduce incontinence symptoms becoming uncontrollable.
People who are unfamiliar with pelvic floor exercise options may want to research online guides or consider consulting with a physical therapist on the best exercises for their particular symptoms and concerns.
Several prescription medications can be used to treat urinary incontinence, but these are usually only prescribed after lifestyle changes have proven unsuccessful. In addition, depending on your medical history and health concerns, some medication side effects may be a deal-breaker for you.
This type of urinary incontinence treatment focuses on gently stimulating the nerves that control the bladder, restoring normal communication between the brain and the bladder.
There are a couple of different options for implants. Both implants allow patients to safely undergo a full-body MRI, which is significant as many implants can cause safety concerns for patients needing an MRI. The primary differences between them are that one does not need to be recharged and can last up to 20 years, whereas the other needs to be recharged every two months or so and can last about 15 years.
This therapy goes beyond what many first-line treatments can provide and shows clinically significant improvements within two years for 93% of patients who try it. It’s also possible to test this therapy with an evaluation period to see if it will give you the type of symptom relief you want.
Where to Start
If you’re concerned about experiencing urinary incontinence, doing your research is the best first step. Reading this article is a great place to begin. Once you’ve done some initial research, a good next step is to talk to your doctor or find a specialist near you who can help diagnose and manage your condition.