Male Incontinence - It's Worth Talking About

06 February 2018

Men don't like to talk about their problems. That's just a fact of life. We're far more comfortable talking about sport or cars or the variety of other things that interest us.

Incontinence is not something we'd really be comfortable talking to our friends about. In fact, we'd probably not be comfortable talking to anybody about it. So we don't. Instead, we purchase a variety of products to help hide the problem, never really understanding the causes and how it could effectively be treated.

Worried Man

The worst part is, most men probably think they're alone in this situation. Statistics, however, show that this is certainly not the case.

InContact, a charity dedicated to helping people with urinary incontinence, confirm that about 3% of the male population between the ages of 17 and 45 have some form of incontinence.

Anyone looking at that figure might think it's not that much, making it even more of a taboo topic. But this number could be significantly skewed due to the simple fact that most men don't report the problem to anyone, preferring to self-manage symptoms and adapt their lifestyles. That number could be a lot higher, making it more common than you think.

These numbers may also be a contributing factor to the consistent increase in sales of adult incontinence products. According to Euromonitor International, a market research company, 12.8 billion units of adult incontinence products were sold globally in 2010. This figure increased to 18.5 billion units by 2015 and is set to grow by another 7% to a whopping 25.8 billion units by 2020.

Types of Male Incontinence and The Causes

One of the most common types of incontinence in men is an overactive bladder. It's also sometimes referred to as urge incontinence and occurs when the bladder muscles unexpectedly contract causing a sudden and urgent need to urinate. It can happen even when the bladder is empty, making it a frustrating and challenging problem to deal with.

It can be caused by a number of underlying problems including neurological damage, medication and inflammation of the prostate gland.


Stress Incontinence is another common type of incontinence found in men. This occurs when there is additional strain placed on the bladder when coughing, sneezing or when lifting something heavy.

Sometimes It can happen when the bladder is weak following surgery in or around the pelvic area. It can also happen if you have weak pelvic floor muscles - often associated with being overweight.

While there may be many reasons for incontinence, one of the most common in men is problems with the prostate gland. One of the topical subjects for men these days is prostate cancer.

Unfortunately, it can affect men of any age, and is not necessarily a disease restricted to the older generations. More men in their thirties and forties are now being diagnosed with cancer of the prostate.

Mark's story...

Mark is a 48-year-old chap with a fairly normal, healthy life. He exercises regularly and maintains a healthy weight. He eats well and doesn't smoke. He also doesn't drink excessively. He has a young family, a good job and is relatively stress-free.

A few months after his 48th birthday, Mark noticed some unusual things going on. He was finding it more and more painful to urinate and on one particular day, he noticed a little blood in his urine. Mark was concerned, so he went to see his GP.

Unfortunately, not long after his first visit to the GP and after a few tests , Mark was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Assured of the varied treatment options and high success rate, Mark began his treatment.

Radiotherapy was the first part of the treatment plan. It was going well, until he started developing the need to urinate more often - especially at night. He also found that when he coughed or sneezed, he would accidentally leak urine. This no doubt caused him additional stress and anxiety in an already difficult time.

He stayed away from friends, avoided exercise and kept clear of all the things he usually liked doing. He was embarrassed and began adapting his life accordingly.

Following the radiotherapy treatment, Mark's incontinence began to improve. He hadn't spoken to anyone about it as he had read that these sort of side effects often clear up on their own once treatment is complete.

As time moved on, Mark's specialist recommended surgery. He recovered well from this but was left with an almost immediate problem with urination. He leaked all the time and seemed unable to control his bladder at all. The pain of his prostatectomy dissipated over time, as did the other complications of having this complex surgery.

The incontinence, however, remained. As his life seemed to be getting back to normal, Mark was still filled with the anxiety that the incontinence brought. He spent more time at home, had problems at work, and shied away from anything intimate with his wife. He was cancer free but felt locked in by the incontinence. He knew he had to do something.

Mark decided to return to see his GP again and was told that his incontinence was a common side effect of the type of treatment he'd had. His GP recommended some treatments including Kegel exercises, as well as bladder training. He also encouraged Mark to get regular exercise, like walking, running and swimming, as this can often strengthen the muscles in the pelvic region.

He was advised to seek additional support from people who were in similar positions. Various forums and other networks were recommended.

A Change in Circumstances

Mark began opening up. He joined a forum to chat about what he was dealing with, talked to his family about what was going on and began an exercise regime.

The incontinence began to subside, and within a few months, Mark had made a full recovery.

Mark's story is a great example of not keeping a topic like incontinence to yourself. Talking about it and seeking out professional help usually treats the problem effectively.

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