Many men struggle with an enlarged prostate, or BPH, which can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms and urinary retention. A lesser-known treatment option, self-intermittent catheterization, may be a solution to help you find relief.
An enlarged prostate – also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – is one of the most common
causes of bladder issues in men as they mature.
Typically, the prostate gland continues to grow in adult life making BPH common in men over the age of 50. As the prostate gland continues to get larger, it impacts the bladder and can press the urethra,
limiting or blocking the flow of urine.
With an enlarged prostate and narrow urethra, limitations to completely empty the bladder, a condition
called urinary retention, can cause uncomfortable urinary symptoms from mild to life-threatening. This
can affect men in different ways but ultimately there are two types of urinary retention:
- Chronic urine retention.
This develops over time and symptoms are not always obvious. People with chronic urinary retention can urinate but cannot completely empty the urine from their bladders. With the pressure from the urine left inside the bladder, the bladder muscle can slowly stretch and become weak. Symptoms such as trouble urinating, frequent urination, or leaking urine, are indicators to speak with a healthcare professional about symptoms and possible treatments. Chronic urinary retention can cause serious health problems and shouldn’t be ignored.
- Acute urine retention
More significant, uncomfortable, and potentially life-threatening, acute urinary retention, is a serious condition that should be addressed with a healthcare professional right away. Acute urinary retention includes symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and the inability to urinate.
Taking control of your symptoms
Not all men need treatment for BPH. Treatment options usually depend on symptoms, age, overall health, and the prostate size. Options for treatment can range from adjustments in life style to medications, to medical procedures, or surgery. Recommendations from a healthcare professional may also include the use of an intermittent catheter.
Using an intermittent catheter to regularly and fully empty the bladder may help avoid urinary retention symptoms or complications. Self-catheterization can provide many men who have an enlarged prostate with the control they want over their bladder symptoms.
Speaking with a healthcare professional is most important to discuss what options may be best for you.
Intermittent catheter solutions to address BPH
Self-intermittent catheterization (IC), is the insertion and removal of a catheter throughout the day in
order to help empty the bladder completely. This technique can be either a short-term or long-term
solution, depending on your medical condition. It is always best to speak with a healthcare professional
if you’re experiencing any urinary symptoms or complications and to best understand if IC is a solution
If you’ve been prescribed an intermittent catheter, the process to self-cath, at first may seem overwhelming. The me+ program from Convatec is here to help navigate life using intermittent catheters, with access to certified nurses, innovative product solutions, and helpful articles with tips and advice.
“The me+ program is amazing and was so helpful to me and my recovery! Thank you Convatec for providing these immensely valuable resources.”Convatec me+ member
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I’ve already had successful prostate surgery, about 4 years ago. My problem, also bladder related is that I had a serious pontine stroke in December 2021 which has left me with very severe reflex incontinence. I don’t get the call to pass urine. I just get a huge discharge of urine with little or no warning. I do at times get a slight message that I could go and I do try. At the moment my way of coping is to use a Tena pull up nappy (diaper). Absorption 2500 mls and Covered by rubber pants. This does help and certainly protects clothes and furniture, car seats etc. what I do, is to stand up if at night about every 90 minutes/2 hourly and try to pass usually about 150/200 mls. The effect on my sleep however is disastrous. Prior to my prostate operation I had acute retention and because of the waiting list here, I was taught to perform ISC and did this approx 6/8 times a day. No matter how careful I was with hygiene I did have some UTI’s.
This time it is the opposite, and I have been advised that in the short term and in order to help me get some sleep that I should consider having an indwelling catheter providing my GP would provide me short term antibiotic cover to help stop infection which has happened every time I have been catheterised in hospital.
Although this is not strictly prostate related, the principle is similar and I would welcome your advice. I will be seeing the bladder and bowel team in about a month to discuss. I am 74 years old, a retired nurse and former medic in the Army Medical Corp.