Urinary incontinence, the loss of bladder control, is not just a female problem. Global figures indicate that one in eight men suffers from bladder weakness – that’s about 2.4 million men in South Africa.
Here’s what all men need to know:
1. Get help sooner rather than later – bladder weakness may be a symptom of an underlying condition, like a bladder infection.
2. Male causes of bladder weakness include infection, bladder overflow, post-surgical complications and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as an enlarged prostate. BPH is fairly common: 50% of men aged 51 to 60 have BPH and it jumps to 90% in men aged 81 to 90.
3. Cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, and diabetes also increase a man's risk of bladder problems. Some common medicines, such as diuretics, antihistamines, and antidepressants, can cause urinary leakage, so it is important to tell your doctor what medications you are on.
4. The single most modifiable risk factor for managing bladder weakness is obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight through good eating habits and regular physical exercise can reduce the strain the extra kilos put on your pelvic floor and result in improved bladder control.
5. Watching your diet and fluid intake, and even learning new bladder voiding habits can all make managing the problem a lot easier. Both drinking too much and drinking too little can make managing bladder weakness difficult. Monitor your fluid intake by keeping an eye on your urine. If it’s dark, you’re not drinking enough. If it’s colourless, you’re drinking too much. It should be a pale straw colour.
6. Alcohol and caffeine are bladder irritants so limit how much of these you drink. Other dietary irritants include fizzy drinks, diet drinks, energy drinks, dairy products, sugar, sweeteners, corn syrup, honey, citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, chocolate and spicy foods.
7. Don’t try to solve your problem by using clothes pegs, string, wads of newspaper or any other homemade methods. Don’t use sanitary towels either – they’re not designed to absorb urine or its odour.
8. TENA has developed special bladder weakness products for men. The TENA Men range is tailor-made for the male anatomy and comes in different absorbencies, from protective guards and products that look like underwear, through to diapers for those with heavy incontinence problems. They are discreet and cannot be easily detected under clothes. Plus, they will protect your skin, and offer the best protection against leakage and odour.
9. Chronic leakage and post-void "after-dribble” can cause more skin irritation in men – especially in the perineal area around the scrotum. Moisturisers and barrier creams can help prevent skin from becoming too dry and inflamed. Men who use incontinence protective guards or protective underwear should change them every few hours to prevent infection.
10. Pelvic floor exercises, in which you squeeze and hold the muscles you'd use to stop urination, aren't just for women. A small Italian study done in 2010 suggests that men who do them for one month before prostate removal surgery have less incontinence after. Plus, strong pelvic floor muscles help to achieve erection and may prevent premature ejaculation.
For more information or advice about bladder weakness, please call TENA on 0860 673 377. Order your free TENA sample by visiting our website or shop online at www.tenashop.co.za.