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.

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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Try double-voiding. When you finish urinating, wait a minute, and then try again. Doing this can reduce dribble afterward.

Cut down on alcohol and caffeine. Many experts believe that alcohol and caffeine can irritate the bladder and worsen urinary incontinence symptoms. Cut out coffee, tea, sodas, and alcohol to see if it makes a difference.

Avoid foods that trigger symptoms. Some men find that certain foods trigger problems. Spicy and acidic foods -- like citrus fruits and tomatoes -- are common culprits. Others include chocolate and artificial sweeteners. But everyone's different. You may find food has no effect for you.

Stop smoking. If you need another reason to quit smoking, here it is: There's evidence that tobacco may aggravate incontinence in men.

Space apart your drinks. Some men say that staggering their fluid intake can ease symptoms. If you have a lot of problems at night, it might help if you drink less before bed.

Stay hydrated. You may be tempted to cut way down on water and other drinks in the hope that it will prevent accidents. But it's a bad idea. If you drink less, your urine becomes more concentrated. The more concentrated the urine, the more irritating to the bladder -- which can lead to more urinary incontinence. So if you’re thirsty, have some water.

Lose weight. Some experts think that extra weight may increase pressure in the abdomen and worsen urinary incontinence. If you're overweight, try to shed a few pounds.

Treat constipation. There's some evidence that constipation -- and the straining that goes along with it -- can have a negative effect on the nerves that you use to pee. By treating your constipation -- with a high-fiber diet, for instance -- you may also help your incontinence.

Watch out for medication side effects. Make sure your doctor knows about every medicine and supplement you use. Some can cause or worsen urinary incontinence. Some antidepressants, sedatives, diuretics, and even cold and allergy medicines may trigger problems.

Plan ahead. A lot of guys with male incontinence get stressed out when they have to travel. Ease your anxiety by being prepared. If you're going on a road trip, map out the route and find places you can stop at regular intervals to use the bathroom. Knowing you have a plan will make you feel more confident.

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Get support. Living with incontinence can be stressful and make you feel alone. Make an effort to stay connected with your friends and family. You might also benefit from a support group. Ask your doctor if there are any in your area.

These techniques may help, but they may not be enough. If your symptoms are affecting your life and the techniques above don't seem to help, talk to your doctor. With the right treatment, you can end your problems with incontinence.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on September 11, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

FamilyDoctor.org: "Urinary Incontinence: Bladder Training."

eMedicine Health: "Incontinence."

Tomas L. Griebling, MD, John P. Wolf 33° Masonic Distinguished Professor of Urology, associate professor and vice chair of the department of urology, University of Kansas.

National Institute on Aging: "Challenging Issues: Special Issues for Family Care."

NIDDK: "Urinary Incontinence in Men."

Nygaard, I. The Cochrane Library, 2009.

Anthony R. Stone, MB, ChB, professor of medicine, vice chair of urology, University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento.

Edward James Wright, MD, assistant professor of urology, Johns Hopkins Medical School; director of neurology and chief of urology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore.

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