The Emotional Toll of Urinary Incontinence in Men
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."