Men and incontinence
“ Approx. 5 % of all men aged over 20 years suffer from incontinence. The problem occurs in all age groups. However, it mostly occurs in men aged over 50 years.
Fortunately, urinary incontinence is not a deadly disease, but it can still have a very negative impact on your life quality. If your urge to urinate is uncontrollable, you may feel insecure, as you don’t always know where the nearest toilet is when you are outside your house. Unfortunately, this causes many incontinence sufferers to stay at home instead of participating in social activities. For most incontinence sufferers, it does not have to be that way as there are many good ways to get rid of your urinary incontinence.
Types of urinary incontinence in men
The most common types of urinary incontinence in men are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence causes involuntary discharge of urine when you exert yourself, e.g. when running, jumping, lifting, sneezing, or coughing. Urge incontinence occurs when you have a powerful and sudden urge to urinate, and if a toilet is not nearby, this may cause a urinary accident.
In the literature on incontinence in men, ”dribbling” is often mentioned as well. Dribbling occurs because the urethra is not emptied when urinating. Thus, urine remains and runs out when you change your position. If you suffer from dribbling, pelvic floor exercises may be helpful in 75 % of the cases.
Causes of urinary incontinence in men
The causes of urinary incontinence can be enlarged prostate, urinary tract infections, after-effects of surgical procedures, overweight, weak sphincter, or prostate cancer. Urinary incontinence can also be caused by diseases in the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The older you get, the greater your risk of enlarged prostate. The prostate gland is located below the bladder and can obstruct the urine from passing when urinating. Thus, the bladder is not emptied completely, which causes constant dribbling.
Prostate operations may also weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor so that it will be difficult to hold the urine in during physical activities. Prostate operations are typically performed in connection with prostate cancer with which approx. 3,700 Danes are diagnosed every year. Of these, approx. 30 % will experience incontinence problems (The Danish Continence Association, the magazine K-Nyt no. 13, 2013).
Depending on the cause, there are different treatment options - not only an operation can be helpful.
Generally seen, 4 different initiatives may relieve or remove your incontinence: An operation, medical treatment, pelvic floor exercises, or lifestyle changes, if possible. As regards the last-mentioned option, it may be helpful to lose weight if you are overweight. If you smoke, it may be helpful to reduce your tobacco use. Furthermore, you should not drink more than 1.5 liters a day.
Most people may associate pelvic floor exercises with women. However, men can also benefit from pelvic floor exercises as well – especially if they suffer from incontinence or erectile dysfunction. So how do you train you pelvic floor? It is not exactly a visible or an easily accessible muscle. In short, you must focus on your rectum and then imagine that you hold in a fart for 8-10 seconds. Many incontinence sufferers will experience a perceptible effect if they do these exercises every day for 8-12 weeks.
For an effective pelvic floor training, it is very important that you do the exercises every day. Therefore, you should make your pelvic floor exercises a habit. Fortunately, it is never too late to start training your pelvic floor.
If you think it is difficult to get started or do your exercises properly, you have the opportunity to take classes in pelvic floor training.
It is very important to consult your doctor so that he can make a diagnosis and identify the type of incontinence. Subsequently, the right treatment can be applied. To make a diagnosis, a fluid and urination schedule must be completed. Moreover, a urine examination is carried out as regards infection, glucose, protein, and blood. If needed, you will be referred to a specialist/a urologist. When you have discussed the problem your doctor, it is important that you insist on getting the help you need.
To minimize your worries whether a urinary accident is visible to others, a pair of smart and discreet incontinence underpants from DRY & COOL may be very helpful.
Pelvic floor exercises
Especially suitable for dribbling
The exercises are done every morning and evening for at least 3 months.
You do the exercises lying, sitting, and standing where you do 3 squeezes in each position. Hold the squeeze for max. 10 seconds with a max. 10 second break. Squeeze as hard as you can. The bottom part of the abdominals must work along, and thus, you will see an obvious pullback of your penis and a lifting of your scrotum. Start squeezing by the rectum and then move forward. Hold the squeeze as tight as possible without using the upper abdominals, buttock muscles, or the inside of your thighs.
EXERCISE 1 – LYING
Lie on your back with your legs stretched. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel the closing of your rectum. Hold the squeezing/closing for max. 1-8 seconds and then relax.
The length and the number of squeezes (max. 30) depend on the performance of your pelvic floor. Listen carefully to your body and stop the exercises if your pelvic floor cannot work without activating other muscles. Don’t forget your breaks. They are just as important as the exercises. During the breaks, your muscles relax and recover.
EXERCISE 2 – SITTING
Sit down on a dining room chair. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel the closing of your rectum. Watch your stomach, - it is NOT supposed to pull in when squeezing. Your stomach must only move in line with your breathing – and of course, you don’t hold your breath during the squeezing. Hold the closing for max. 1-8 seconds. Relax and have a break twice as long. Repeat 10 times – max. 30 times.
EXERCISE 3 – STANDING
Stand with your legs slightly spread. Squeeze in your pelvic floor muscles and feel the closing of your rectum. Watch your stomach, - it is NOT supposed to pull in when squeezing. Your stomach must only move in line with your breathing which must be normal during the squeezing. Hold the closing for max. 1-8 seconds.
Relax and have a break twice as long. Repeat 10 times – max. 30 times.
SOURCE: The Danish Continence Association