A leaky bladder can make you feel self-conscious or cause you to limit your activities. Women aren’t the only ones who suffer from urinary incontinence. Men do, too — and more than you might think.
Bladder leaks in men are not rare. However, it is more challenging for men to come forward with this condition compared to women.
Are bladder leaks permanent? Do you have to learn to live with them? The answer is no.
Why Leaky Bladders Happen
According to the National Institute on Aging, the most common male bladder leak issues include:
- Overflow incontinence. Small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. An enlarged prostate blocking the urethra, diabetes and spinal cord injuries also can cause this type of incontinence.
- Stress incontinence. Urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting heavy objects. This is most common in men who have undergone prostate surgical treatments.
- Urge incontinence. You have a sudden need to urinate and can’t hold it long enough to get to the toilet. This is more common when you have a medical issue such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), bladder stones, diabetes or take some medications that may increase your urine output.
- Functional incontinence. Even if you have normal bladder control, arthritis or another medical condition can make it hard to move quickly enough to reach the restroom.
Can I Fix Bladder Leaks?
Fortunately, science has brought us to a place where you no longer need to simply live with urinary incontinence. There are many ways — from lifestyle and habit changes to medications, physical therapy, surgeries and protective garments and pads, and even a surprising clamp device — to manage leaky bladder symptoms.
You also can manage your personal habits, such as foods and beverages you consume, as well as smoking and drinking alcohol.
Your course of treatment and management depends on the cause of your leaky bladder. But it is possible to manage your symptoms and regain your lifestyle and confidence.
Treatments For Leaky Bladder
With the guidance of your healthcare provider, there are many routes available for you to get your life back.
Treatment starts with a professional medical diagnosis, which will identify the cause of the bladder leakage. From there, treatments range from conservative to more invasive and may include the following:
Lifestyle Changes and Habit Monitoring. A first-line course of action, this is where bladder leak therapy begins and is often successful. Learning to monitor personal habits, such as emptying your bladder on a fixed schedule, prepping for physical activities, and wearing protective pads and undergarments can create a solid foundation for managing bladder leaks. And, if you smoke, stop. Smoking contributes to conditions that trigger bladder leaks.
Food and Beverage Intake. Lifestyle factors such as foods, fluid intake and daily habits can play a significant role in managing bladder leaks. Some foods and beverages have a diuretic effect, which prompts your kidneys to release sodium into your bloodstream, removes water from your blood and results in more urine. Foods and beverages to avoid include:
- Green and black tea
- Alcoholic beverages
- Any fluids that have a diuretic effect
You don’t need to feel like you’re giving up your favorite foods. There are plenty that can help you reduce leaks naturally.
Physical Therapy. Not just for women, there’s an exercise for that! With this other first-line treatment, physical therapists who are specially trained for incontinence management can help strengthen a weak or overstressed bladder.
Medications. There are medications to help alleviate leaks, especially in cases of overactive bladder. When necessary, the addition of medication to physical therapy can decrease leaks by up to 50 percent. Medication therapies can include Botox injections.
Nerve Stimulation. If more conservative options don’t make a notable difference, therapies such as nerve stimulation, in which a special device sends electrical impulses to nerves that control your bladder, may help.
Prescription Clamps. Certain devices, prescribed by your doctor, can clamp or “plug” leaks temporarily for occasions, such as long drives, when you may not have access to a restroom.
Start by Talking with Your Doctor
With a professional medical diagnosis and guidance, you don’t need to “go it alone.” Advances in treating bladder leaks have made it possible to regain your confidence and get back to the activities you love. Get started by talking to your doctor or urologist today.
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