Urinary Incontinence (cont.)
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How is urinary incontinence (UI) treated?
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No single treatment works for everyone. Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your problem, your lifestyle, and your preferences, starting with the simpler treatment options. Many men regain urinary control by changing a few habits and doing exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. If these behavioral treatments do not work, you may choose to try medicines or a continence device - either an artificial sphincter or a catheter. For some men, surgery is the best choice.
For some men, avoiding incontinence is as simple as limiting fluids at certain times of the day or planning regular trips to the bathroom - a therapy called timed voiding or bladder training. As you gain control, you can extend the time between trips. Bladder training also includes Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles, which help hold urine in the bladder. Extensive studies have not yet conclusively shown that Kegel exercises are effective in reducing incontinence in men, but many clinicians find them to be an important element in therapy for men.
How do you do Kegel exercises?
The first step is to find the right muscles. Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a "pulling" feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises.
Do not squeeze other muscles at the same time or hold your breath. Also, be careful not to tighten your stomach, leg, or buttock muscles. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Squeeze just the pelvic muscles.
Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 3. Then relax for a count of 3. Repeat, but do not overdo it. Work up to 3 sets of 10 repeats. Start doing your pelvic muscle exercises lying down. This position is the easiest for doing Kegel exercises because the muscles then do not need to work against gravity. When your muscles get stronger, do your exercises sitting or standing. Working against gravity is like adding more weight.
Be patient. Do not give up. It takes just 5 minutes, three times a day. Your bladder control may not improve for 3 to 6 weeks, although most people notice an improvement after a few weeks.
Medicines can affect bladder control in different ways. Some medicines help prevent incontinence by blocking abnormal nerve signals that make the bladder contract at the wrong time, while others slow the production of urine. Still others relax the bladder or shrink the prostate. Before prescribing a medicine to treat incontinence, your doctor may consider changing a prescription you already take. For example, diuretics are often prescribed to treat high blood pressure because they reduce fluid in the body by increasing urine production. Some men may find that switching from a diuretic to another kind of blood pressure medicine takes care of their incontinence.
If changing medicines is not an option, your doctor may choose from the following types of drugs for incontinence:
Surgical treatments can help men with incontinence that results from nerve-damaging events, such as spinal cord injury or radical prostatectomy.
UI should not cause embarrassment. It is a medical problem, like arthritis and diabetes. Your health care provider can help you find a solution. You may also find it helpful to join a support group. In many areas, men dealing with the aftereffects of prostate cancer treatment have organized support groups. Other organizations to help people with incontinence exist as well. See the For More Information section.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/19/2014
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Urinary Incontinence - Causes in Men Question: What was the cause of urinary incontinence in you or a male friend or relative?
Urinary Incontinence - Treatment Question: What forms of treatment, including medication and lifestyle changes, have you used for urinary incontinence?