Are you a man who has just started experiencing incontinence? While incontinence happens more often in women, men can experience bladder leaks too. Incontinence becomes more common in men as they get older, with the prevalence increasing to as much as 16% for ages 75 and beyond.
Bladder leaks are difficult for anyone. They can limit your life, making you feel like you’re unable to do anything for fear of having an accident in public. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their condition, which can lead to a limited social life and the onset of depression.
Incontinence in men can be caused by a number of things. Aging, enlarged prostate (BPH), prostate removal, diabetes, chronic coughing, obesity, an obstruction in the urinary tract, or even urinary tract infections can all be causes of urinary incontinence in men. For many men, trouble with their prostate is a key contributor to incontinence. An enlarged prostate can often result in an overactive bladder, which is when you feel an urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. This can sometimes result in leaks when you’re unable to make it to a toilet in time.
For men who have had their prostate removed, they may experience stress incontinence, which is when leakage occurs when stress is placed on the bladder. Activities such as laughing, coughing sneezing, or even moving from a sitting to a standing position may cause unwanted leakage. And, while long-term incontinence is rare after prostate removal (only about 6-8% of men experience this) it’s never easy to deal with or accept.
Luckily, there are many options available for men experiencing urinary incontinence. Here, we’re looking at some of the products available that can help alleviate or manage bladder leaks that are designed specifically for men.
Products To Manage Urinary Incontinence In Men
Absorbent Pads and Briefs
Most people are familiar with absorbent pads or briefs, and they are often one of the first things used when leaks begin. These are a great option for managing your incontinence and can be used in conjunction with other treatment options, or on an ongoing basis as you work to regain control of your bladder.
It may seem like all absorbent products are the same, but take your time to find out what works for you. You should pay attention to the level of protection you need, when you need it, and what you feel the most comfortable wearing. Also, be sure to try different fits – getting something that’s too small or too big will only result in more leaks. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks process, but you want to find the fit that’s just right.
Absorbent products can be purchased at most big-box retail and grocery stores, or you can order them online, which is our preferred method. Not only can you often find coupons for online purchases, but you also typically have a much wider selection of products and customer service reps that can help guide you in your decision of what to purchase. And, your non-descript package shows up right at your doorstep, making this a convenient and discreet option. (https://www.nafc.org/bhealth-blog/7-companies-that-will-deliver-incontinence-supplies-to-your-home)
Similar to a pad, a guard is designed specifically for men. It’s a cup-shaped absorbent product that is held in place by an adhesive strip and is typically worn with close-fitting underwear.
Shields are similar to guards, but are typically lighter and designed to hold small leaks. They are often used as a “back-up” or “just-in-case” pad.
Condom catheters are external urinary catheters designed especially for men that are worn – you guessed it – like a condom. For men who don’t want to mess with pads, a condom catheter can be a good option, as long as they find one that fits well. Condom catheters are less invasive than an internal catheter and are typically more comfortable, although care must be used to keep it clean (it should be cleaned daily), and to make sure that skin irritation doesn’t occur.
Clamps or Cuffs
A clamp (sometimes called a cuff) helps prevent light leaks or dribbles in men who experience stress urinary incontinence. This type of incontinence can happen when straining or lifting things, or any time stress is placed on the bladder.
Clamps work by putting pressure on the urethra (the tube that removes urine from the body) just under the penis, to keep it closed and to avoid leaks.
Most clamps are designed to wrap around the penis. When you need to urinate, you simply release the clamp to allow urine to flow through the urethra, then reapply the clamp when you’re finished. It’s important to clean your cuff every day.
There are many different styles and finding the right fit is important.
Artificial Urinary Sphincter.
An artificial urinary sphincter works much like a cuff but is implanted by a doctor during surgery. In men, the urinary sphincter is designed to remain closed until you relax it, to release the flow of urine. However, some men have trouble controlling their sphincters and that’s where an artificial urinary sphincter can be helpful. It’s a more permanent option for those looking for control of their sphincter.
An artificial urinary sphincter contains three parts – a cuff, which wraps around the urethra, a pump, which is placed in the scrotum, and a balloon, which is placed in the abdomen. When a man wants to urinate, he activates the pump under the skin which releases the cuff and allows urine to flow freely. The cuff typically stays open for about 3 minutes before automatically closing again. Artificial urinary sphincters work very well and typically can last 8-10 years before needing to be replaced. Placing an artificial urinary sphincter does require surgery, which is usually done as an outpatient.
For men who have long-term stress incontinence, a synthetic sling may be an option. A male sling is made of mesh and helps to reposition the urethra and provide support to the muscles around it. It keeps the urethra closed, preventing leaks when pressure is placed on the muscles (like when you laugh, sneeze, lift of workout).
Outpatient surgery is required to place the sling, but it typically takes under an hour. Many men find that their symptoms resolve completely when undergoing a male sling placement, although, as with any surgical procedure, there are risks.
As you can see, there are many products that are designed to treat male urinary incontinence. Talk with your doctor about your condition to see what might be a good fit for you. Some questions to ask are:
What is the cost?
Is this product/procedure covered by my insurance?
What can I expect in terms of results? Is there a risk I’ll still experience leaks?
Will my leaks stop right away?
What are the side effects?
How long does this procedure last? Will it ever need to be done again?
What other options are there for managing my bladder leaks?