MALE INCONTINENCE

Jun 28,2016

A malady of middle-aged men

As you approach middle age, you might have to walk a bit slowly, rest more often, and reconcile to the fact that your physical strength and stamina are no longer as much as they used to be. One of these is your sexual prowess. Consequently, organs in the body that facilitate your sexual capabilities, such as the prostate gland, may start to function abnormally.

The prostate gland is located in the pelvic region of your body, just behind and below the urinary bladder, and participates in sexual activity when you are young. Later in life, it might grow to a larger than expected size and squeeze the urine passage that runs from the urinary bladder to the penis. Urology Specialists point out that every other male older than 50 years of age is likely to have a prostate enlargement that requires medical intervention. In medical parlance, this is known as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). This statistic applies to Indian men as much as Europeans, Americans, and others. In a much smaller number, the prostate growth is cancerous and calls for more drastic therapy.

Blockage of urine

Now when the BPH is large enough to partially block the passage of urine, you may have to strain hard and even then, the urine may pass as a trickle. At times, a few drops might spill into your innerwear and even this should ideally be classified as incontinence. BPH usually takes many months and even a year or two to develop, and during this time, your muscles have to carry an additional workload that may weaken them to some extent.

Surgical treatment for BPH is nowadays widely available in most Indian cities, and apart from the Urology Specialists, a lot of general surgeons are also capable of performing the surgical procedure. The same thing applies to prostate cancer, though the treatment could also involve radiation therapy.

After the operation

But the problem of the prostate disease rarely ends with surgery. Even if your operation is perfectly successful, you may find it difficult to regain complete control over your urine passage for about four to six weeks. This is quite normal and there is no need to worry. At the end of this time, most men are able to control their urine passage just as before.

The reason for this period of temporary incontinence is that the pelvic muscles which form a kind of safety net for your bladder and other organs have become fatigued because you have had to strain while passing urine. But over the passage of time, the muscles are able to recover their normal strength and the incontinence disappears.

During these weeks, doctors and physiotherapists will usually recommend a series of exercises. They will ask you to exert your pelvic muscles (as if you are trying to physically control your urination) for a few seconds and then relax them and repeat this sequence perhaps 8-10 times at a time. As the muscles become stronger, you may increase the period of exertion but never more than a minute or so.

In addition, there are special types of underwear with extra padding to absorb a few drops of urine, and drip collectors that fit snugly over the penis. For those who have totally lost control over their urine, the only solution may be a condom and a catheter that leads to a urine bag. But that is quite rare among patients of prostate disease.