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Urinary Incontinence and Men: Managing Day to Day

    If you're a man dealing with urinary incontinence, you need to see a doctor to get the right treatment. But you can do some things on your own to manage your symptoms.

    Try bladder training. Some men can train themselves to control their urinary incontinence. Here's one approach: Start taking scheduled bathroom breaks whether you have to go or not. Over time, you can extend the times between trips to the bathroom. With some conscious effort, you may be able to tame your symptoms and only have to urinate every 3 or 4 hours. Keep in mind you may not see immediate results from bladder training. But if you stay with it, you should benefit within a few months.

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    Flex your muscles. Some men think of Kegels -- or pelvic floor exercises -- as a woman's thing. But they can also help men strengthen the muscles around the bladder. You’ll have to make sure you're flexing the right muscle. Exercising the wrong ones could increase the pressure on your bladder. The muscles you would use to stop yourself from passing gas are the ones to focus on.

    Here's how you do it:

    Tense the muscles for 3 seconds and relax them for 3 seconds. Build up slowly until you're doing three sets of 10 repetitions. Altogether, it should take about 15 minutes a day. You can do Kegels anywhere -- in bed, at your desk, or watching TV. Don’t do them while urinating. That can lead to infections.

    It may take about 3 to 6 weeks before Kegel exercises have the effect you want. But most men notice results sooner.

    Keep a diary. For a few days at least, keep track of how much you drink, how often you have to use the bathroom, and when you leak. Note anything in particular that might have triggered your symptoms, such as bending over in a certain way or drinking too much coffee. Your diary will give your doctor a good sense of your symptoms and how they're affecting your life. It can help find out which tests are needed to make the right diagnosis.

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    When do you need help managing incontinence?