Nearly one out of every five men over the age of 60 is having to deal with
male urinary incontinence. That's a lot of people. But as common as male
incontinence is, odds are good that you've never met a single guy who fessed up
to having it. It's not exactly a topic men are anxious to discuss in the locker
room or over drinks after work.
"For many men," says Tomas L. Griebling, MD, "incontinence is so
embarrassing they won't discuss it with anybody." Griebling is vice chair
of the department of urology at the University of Kansas in Kansas City.
"Help me ... help you. Help me, help you."
That famous line from the film Jerry Maguire may be the best advice a
doctor could give his or her patient.
"Some patients have the attitude, 'I'm putting myself in the hands of a
professional,'" says Stephen Permut, MD, chairman of family and community
medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "They want
you to make all their decisions for them."
Permut prefers to have patients get involved in their own care and engage
But why is it so embarrassing? It's because there's more to male
incontinence than just the symptom. It's a condition that can affect how you
see yourself. "Adult diapers" used to be a punch line or a gag gift;
now it refers to the product in a drugstore isle that you're trying to choose.
Urinary incontinence can make a self-assured guy feel like a humiliated,
bed-wetting kid. It can make a healthy, active adult suddenly feel like an
invalid. Male incontinence can have a corrosive effect on your state of
But life doesn't have to be so bleak. If you're dealing with male
incontinence -- with leaking and the constant worry about leaking --
here's some very good news. You can get help.
"The bottom line is that incontinence isn't something you have to live
with," says Edward James Wright, MD, assistant professor of urology at
Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore. "It isn't a normal consequence
of life. It's a problem, but a fixable problem." If your symptoms are
stressing you out and taking a toll on your life, here's what you need to
The Impact of Male Incontinence
A lot of different things can cause male incontinence. It's often a side
effect after surgery for prostate cancer or, less often, an enlarged prostate
(BPH). It can be a symptom or a result of many different health conditions, for
example diabetes, strokes, or MS. Sometimes it can develop for less clear
reasons, such as an "overactive bladder."