The Emotional Toll of Urinary Incontinence in Men
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."
So where can you go to discuss such a topic? Here are some ideas.
- Support groups. Living with male incontinence is isolating. So
meeting other men in your position who are dealing with the same stresses and
symptoms can be a big relief. "Some guys get a huge amount of energy and
support from meeting with groups," says Wright. "They say that being in
those meetings is what pulled them out of the hole." Support groups are not
only ways of getting emotional support. They're also places you can trade
practical treatment tips or advice about doctors.
- To find a support group in your area, ask a doctor for
recommendations. For men who have recovered from prostate cancer, the group Us
Too runs popular support groups throughout the country.
However, some guys don't always get the
expected relief from a support group. "I've seen some men who get worse
after joining a support group," Wright says. "They just can't bear
everyone else's stories and it sends them into a downward spiral." So is a
support group right for you? Wright says the benefit varies from guy to guy.
You won't really know whether a group will help you unless you try a few
sessions and see.
- Therapy. Male incontinence can lead to depression, and depression
can be serious. So if you think your symptoms have become severe, get
professional help. "When we see people who are having significant emotional
issues related to their urinary incontinence, we refer them to colleagues in
psychiatry or psychology," says Griebling.
Some men can get a lot of benefit from
therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. If the idea of therapy
doesn't appeal to you, keep in mind that it may be quite different from what
you expect. Therapy doesn't mean lying on a couch talking about your childhood.
Lots of therapists focus on working on specific, concrete issues. A therapist
might zero in on how your symptoms are affecting you -- for instance, causing
anxiety at work or interfering with your relationships -- and help you figure
out ways to work through the problems.
- Talking to your spouse. You may feel embarrassed, but experts say
it's a good idea to talk about what you're going through with your partner.
"In a good, supportive relationship, I think it's critical for a man to
discuss it with his spouse," says Wright. Not only could you use your
spouse's understanding and support right now, but your secrecy could be
affecting your marriage. If you don't explain what's going on, your wife might
think that you're having a problem with her, Wright says. "The gap between
a husband and wife can just keep widening," he says. "It can get to a
point of no return."