Managing Male Incontinence

Managing Male Incontinence

What causes incontinence in men and what you can do about it

Older man looking out the window

Sometimes men have a tough time talking about any plumbing not connected to a sink or tub. But incontinence is experienced by as many as one-third of older men, and up to 11 percent of older men are affected by the condition daily. Urinary incontinence is when you lose bladder control, which causes urine leakage. Incontinence can be a minor inconvenience or it can be debilitating, potentially preventing you from participating in any activity that takes you more than a few steps from a bathroom.

Incontinence isn’t a disease — it is a common condition that you needn’t feel embarrassed about. Often it’s a symptom of other conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, chronic coughing, neurological conditions, inactivity, or obesity. As you age, the chance of incontinence increases because bladder muscles may weaken.

Treatment for urinary incontinence will vary depending on the type of incontinence you have. Some incontinence problems are addressed through medication or surgery. Usually your doctor will also recommend simple lifestyle changes, including these adjustments:

Swap drink choice. Changing the amount and type of liquids consumed may diminish incontinence. For example, drinks containing caffeine (such as tea, coffee, and carbonated beverages) can make incontinence worse. Limiting alcoholic drinks is also a good idea.

Increase activity. Regular exercise can help manage incontinence. Start with gentle workouts, such as walking, yoga, or using an elliptical machine. Physical activity can also prevent constipation, which can worsen incontinence problems.

Drop some pounds. Being overweight contributes to incontinence. Studies have shown than losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce symptoms.

Quit smoking. Along with increasing the chance of coughing, smoking worsens bladder irritation. Your doctor or health-care professional can give you advice on quitting.

Train your bladder. Using a restroom at regularly timed intervals and maintaining a bladder diary can help you train your bladder. By measuring the time between bathroom visits, you can gradually work toward increasing how long you can hold your urine.

Do pelvic floor exercises. Strengthen your pelvic floor muscle with Kegel exercises. Stronger pelvic floor muscles allow you to hold urine more effectively. Through these exercises, you tighten and relax the muscles that control urine flow.

Suppress urgency. By distracting your mind, you can train yourself to suppress the urge to urinate. Two tricks: Take long, deep breaths, like you’re meditating. Or use mental distraction by fixing your mind on a simple, relaxing image.