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The Emotional Toll of Urinary Incontinence in Men

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Male Incontinence: The Downside of Self-Care

For understandable reasons, many men want to take care of male incontinence on their own. They're embarrassed and don't want to talk about it with their spouses or doctors. They may start buying pads or disposable underwear that they find in the store. Others don't even do that. Perhaps too sheepish to be seen buying such products in public, they secretively devise their own ways of stopping dribble and leaks.

"It's amazing how many men will improvise," says Stone. "There are a lot of helpful products out there, but they just don't use them."

Sometimes, this approach works well enough for a man to get by. Still, men who go it alone make life more difficult than it needs to be. What's more, they could be putting themselves at risk. Male incontinence can be a sign of a serious medical condition -- like diabetes -- that needs treatment. But if you never talk to a doctor about your symptoms, you won't get the diagnosis.

Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Surgery

But male incontinence isn't just a problem for the lone wolves who tough it out and refuse to see a doctor. Even guys who are under medical care -- and who are doing exactly what their doctors tell them -- can still wind up in a bad situation, experts say.

One of the most common sources of trouble is prostate surgery. Incontinence right after surgery is very common. But because it usually fades, doctors may downplay the significance.

"After surgery, doctors may be more focused on the patient's recovery and PSA levels," says Stone. "The incontinence can get swept under the carpet a bit." Most doctors just give some basic advice. They might recommend Kegel exercises and dietary changes, for instance.

But what many men don't realize is that these minor lifestyle choices aren't always enough. Sometimes male incontinence after surgery is severe and doesn't resolve on its own.

"I see loads of patients who have been doing 200 Kegel exercises a day for two years after surgery and it hasn't done anything," Wright says. "But they think that if they just keep doing the exercises, or if they're just patient enough, the problem will go away." What's worse, Wright tells WebMD, is that some guys come to think that it's their fault. They feel like they still have symptoms because they didn't work hard enough at recovery.

Wright's seen men who have been putting up with urinary incontinence every day for a decade or more after surgery. "They never realized that they could do anything about it," he says.

Male Incontinence: Getting Support

If incontinence is having a major impact on your quality of life, it will really help to get some emotional support. "A lot of men don't say anything about their incontinence and suffer in silence," says Griebling. "But they could really find a lot of comfort in just talking to someone."

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When do you need help managing incontinence?