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5 Important Facts about Male Incontinence

Male Incontinence is more Common than Believed


According to American Board of Urology, It’s estimated that about 25 million Americans have incontinence. Women make up about three fourths of this statistic, due to hormonal and physical changes of the pelvic floor due to pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. This leaves the last fourth to men, which means over 6 million male Americans experience incontinence. Let’s learn the important facts about a condition that affects millions of Americans.


1. Excessive Dribble is not Normal


Most men drip a minor amount of pee after urination, hence the shake and tuck.  Sometimes these minor drips still moisten your underwear, but generally it’s nothing serious. But if your post-pee-drips soak through your pants, cause irritation, and are so frequent that it’s uncomfortable, that is a form of male incontinence. Excessive dribble is not normal, and may be a symptom of something more serious.


2. Male Incontinence is not Ageist


It is true that the percentage of male incontinence increases with age, but that does not mean it is a normal part of aging. Generally, older people experience incontinence due to other health related issues that come with again, like arthritis or stroke. It is not simply because you are aging that you start to have bladder control issues.


According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), “Between 2% and 15% of men ages 15 to 64, and 5% to 15% of men over 60 who live at home (as opposed to a nursing home), have incontinence.”


3. Prostate Issues and Treatment are among the most common causes of Male Incontinence


The most common prostate issues consist of prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The prostate gland produces many of the necessary fluids (prostatic fluid) that create sperm, and is secreted at at the time of ejaculation. When there is a tumor in the prostate, cancerous or non cancerous, it often puts pressure on the bladder and squeezes the urethra. This has a detrimental affect on the urinary system, therefore causing male incontinence.


Dr. William D. Steers, past President of the American Board of Urology (ABU), says,  “Most patients who come to see me about stress urinary incontinence are men who’ve had surgery for prostate cancer, 9 out of 10,” says Dr. Steers.


Treatments for prostate issues like prostatectomy (the removal of parts or all of the prostate), and external beam radiation can also cause male incontinence. Sometimes these treatments negatively affect the nerve endings, and or the function of the urinary system. Many men regain control of their bladder after treatment, but some do not. Recovery after treatment can take months to years, with the help of pelvic floor training, exercise and diet change.


4. Obesity and and Unhealthy Lifestyle increase Risk


The link between obesity and incontinence is increasing in American men, according to Dr. Steers. Excess weight puts pressure on the bladder, and weakens its supportive facilities. If you smoke, or drink, the risk increases significantly. Excessive smoking and drinking causes an unhealthy blood flow, further weakening the pelvic floor muscles. Male incontinence then ensues because you lack full control over your bladder and bowels.


5. Nerve Damage


According to the Journal of Neurology, Parkinson’s disease is far more common in men than in women. Parkinson’s is known to cause nerve damage, which can trigger the symptoms of incontinence. Men also have more spinal chord injuries, because they are more likely to be involved in car and motorcycle accidents, active duty combat, and workplace injury. Nancy Muller, PhD, executive director of the NAFC, attests to this, and says this spinal chord damage increases risk of incontinence. The loss of bladder and bowel control is not the only result of nerve damage. You may have full control, but you may not be able to reach the bathroom in time, so leaky accidents occur.


While male incontinence is generally unaddressed, it affects millions of men. We should spread the knowledge of male incontinence so suffers do not feel so alone. Treatments are available, and an active lifestyle with leakage is possible.

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