Male incontinence: the unspoken subject
Although 1 in 4 people have encountered bladder or bowel instability, incontinence still remains a tricky subject to approach – especially with men.
We’ve all seen the TV commercials and glossy print ads featuring a confident woman breezing through her everyday routine thanks to the slim line pad hidden in her pants. It seems incontinence in women is well covered territory; but what about men living with the same issue?
Getting the word out about male incontinence
On average, men wait 4.2 years after experiencing bladder control issues before seeing a healthcare professional, with a range of excuses for not seeking help sooner. Many try to make light of the situation and tell themselves it’s just another part of growing older – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Male incontinence is no laughing matter and we feel it’s important to raise awareness of the treatments and products available today which enable those with the condition to continue living confidently and independently. The design of continence wear for men and women, particularly within the last few years, has evolved significantly, making the condition much more discreet.
Advancing technology has also made living with incontinence easier through such solutions like toilet apps which are available on your handheld devices and give you peace of mind when out shopping or traveling to new places etc.
The way forward
It may be daunting to think about at first, but speaking about male incontinence is the first vital step to making the subject more approachable. Sharing your experiences with a doctor or family member can help set you on the path to diagnosis, which will help you get the support you need to live more confidently with your condition. We recently spoke to a lovely man called Steve, who explained what it's been like living with Ulcerative Colitis since he was just 14 years old in the hope of encouraging other men to come forward and get the treatment they need for their incontinence.
In support of Blue September 2017, which aims to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer in men and the symptoms to look out for - including incontinence - we’ve put together a short guide to male incontinence dealing with the types, causes and how to deal with the symptoms so you can continue living independently.
Please feel free to share this on your social media so we can help end the awkwardness and make this largely unspoken subject heard!
Despite increasing numbers of men being diagnosed with incontinence, many still find it difficult to discuss bodily functions in terms of health issues.
Even though incontinence affects both younger and older generations, it is often seen as an uncomfortable subject to discuss; yet opening a dialogue with your doctor and family is the only way to find a solution.
Although you will need to provide a medical history and have a physical exam to confirm a diagnosis of incontinence (which may include taking notes of your toilet movements in a diary) any initial awkwardness will soon subside - especially as you begin treatment and start to feel more confident.
TYPES OF INCONTINENCE
Most common type of incontinence.
Also known as unstable or overactive incontinence.
Some people have a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Occurs when thereis an obstruction tothe outflow of urine
Occurs most frequently with children and is, similar to urge incontinence.
WHAT IS BLADDER AND BOWEL INCONTINENCE?
Bladder (or Urinary) incontinence happens when the ordinary procedure of storing and passing urine is disturbed. Any sudden additional weight on your bladder, for example, laughing or sneezing, can make urine spill out of your urethra. Your urethra is also unable to remain shut if the pelvic floor muscles or your urethral sphincter – the ring of muscle that keeps the urethra shut – are weak or harmed.
Bowel incontinence (sometimes known as faecal incontinence) is an incapability to control bowel movements. The experience of bowel incontinence differs from person to person. A few people feel a sudden need to go to the toilet yet can’t reach it in time. This is known as urge bowel incontinence. Other individuals encounter no sensation before soiling themselves, known as passive incontinence or passive soiling, or there may be slight soiling when passing wind.
WHAT CAN CAUSE INCONTINENCE?
Increased pressure on your stomach – examples include being pregnant or overweight.
Damage to the bladder or nearby area during surgery, such as the removal of the prostate gland in men.
Crohn’s Disease and Colitis.
Spinal cord injury.
Diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
HOW INCONTINENCE AFFECTS YOUR LIFE
Urinary incontinence can affect your social, work and personal relationships by changing your mood, your personality and coping strategies.
Stress incontinence and an overactive bladder or bowel are treatable with physiotherapy, medication or surgery
Men wait 4.2 years on average after experiencing bladder control problems before seeing a healthcare professional.
Over 10% of men aged 65+ have urinary and bowel incontinence to some degree.
Men are more likely to have urinary retention due to prostate gland enlargement as they age.
It is estimated that around 60% of men who are aged 60 or over have some degree of prostate enlargement or symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH).
of men in relationships reported reduced intimacy, affection and physical proximity.
Amongst younger men, incontinence is often related to prostate cancer surgery. Out of 50% of men who undergo prostate removal surgery, about 20% will continue having a significant problem with leakage.
DIAGNOSIS: Excuses & how to confront them
UNDERSTANDING: Difficult situations for those with incontinence
Not knowing where the nearest toilets are and which ones will allow you to use them without buying can make shopping stressful.
Many people with incontinence will say no to nights out as they fear they will be going back and forth to the toilet or worse, not able to find the nearest one. They may also worry that drinking will exacerbate their condition.
Feeling under to pressure to explain why you’re using a disabled toilet can feel daunting and embarrassing.
Travel can be stressful if you worry that you’ll be unable to get to the toilet on planes or trains, and having to stop frequently on car journeys can also cause anxiety. Travelling abroad means it’s more difficult to easily locate a toilet and have the freedom to explore.
The worry that your condition could affect your work environment with numerous trips to the toilet.
TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH INCONTINENCE
Opens all disabled toilets in the UK.
“JUST CAN’T WAIT!” CARD
Assists with access to your closest toilet and helps explains situations without having to go into detail with anyone.
FIND A TOILET APP
Download the free app for a simple and quick way to find where the nearest toilets are located.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE
Avoid irritants, diuretics and stay hydrated. Avoid caffeine.
Typically older people tend to have stomas, which is an operation leading to a small opening onto the surface of the stomach. This helps to pass and divert the flow of faeces or urine.
Apply extra pressure with sticky tape onto the bag, making the adhesive stronger
There are supplies out there to help keep any situation under control. Understanding around incontinence progresses with time as more people come forward and share their experiences. Consequently, incontinence products and equipment, are adapting in design to produce more efficient ideas and solutions, including:
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- November 30th 2017