Urinary incontinence, or bladder leakage, is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine. It is a symptom or combination of symptoms related to the two functions of the lower urinary tract system: urine storage and bladder emptying. Symptoms are sometimes related to temporary or reversible conditions. Although it can be related to aging changes in our bodies, it is not the inevitable outcome of aging since many of the risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle changes.
We created this guide to help you better understand urinary incontinence, and hopefully make leaks easier to manage — or even stop — every day.
Urinary incontinence is pretty common. In fact, over 65 million Americans experience some form of bladder leakage. That’s about 1 in 4 adults,* so you're definitely not alone. Something else you may not know: Almost half of the adults experiencing bladder leakage are under the age of 50. There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed when educating yourself about these symptoms since there are many resources and ways to help you achieve your desired quality of life.
*Kimberly-Clark internal research.
As we mentioned before, having an overactive bladder isn't a disease. Often times, modifying everyday habits and lifestyle changes can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. If the symptoms persist and become very bothersome, please do not hesitate to consult with your primary physician.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) — For some men, once the UTI is treated they stop experiencing urine leakage.
Constipation — The rectum is behind the bladder and shares the same nerve systems. Compacted stool can cause these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency.
Weaken Pelvic Floor Muscles — Kegel exercises are an important tool for men to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscles support all the pelvic organs and is critical bladder, bowel and sexual function.
Diet Related — Certain foods and drinks can act as diuretics or bladder irritants.
Obesity — Studies show that each 5-unit increase in body mass index (BMI) is associated with a 60-100% increased risk of daily urinary incontinence.**
Side Effect of New Medications — Heart and blood pressure medications, sedatives and muscle relaxants.
Psychological Conditions (e.g., depression) — Treatment of the condition may alleviate the urinary symptoms in some men. Also, some of the medications can alleviate and some may have this side symptom.
**Mandal, Ananya, M.D., Obesity and Urinary Incontinence (2015, March 16). Retrieved from http://www.news-medical.net/health/Obesity-and-Urinary-Incontinence.aspx
In order to store urine and empty the bladder normally, your pelvic floor muscles and the nerve systems that control bladder function must work together to hold urine and release it under your brain’s control. This complex orchestration of organs, muscles and nerve systems can be susceptible to getting timing and/or signals scrambled. The following are the risk factors for men in rank order:†
†Markland, A.D., Prevalence of Urinary Incontinence in Men: Results From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Vol. 184, 1022-1027, September 2010).
Lower urinary tract symptoms consist of three groups of symptoms: urine storage, bladder emptying (while urinating) and post-bladder emptying (immediately after urinating). While there are several kinds of bladder leakage, the most common relate to storage symptoms.
Specifically, these are:
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): Involuntary leakage that occurs when pressure (due to effort or exertion) is suddenly placed on your bladder. This could happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise or lift a heavy item.
Urge Urinary Incontinence (UUI): A sudden, intense urge to urinate with, or followed by, urine leakage.
Mixed Urinary Incontinence (MUI): When you experience both Stress and Urge Urinary Incontinence.
Overactive Bladder (OAB): A syndrome characterized by symptoms of urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with increased daytime frequency and nocturia.
Nocturia: An equally common condition in men and women with about half of the people reporting at least one bathroom trip per night and about 1 in 4 report two trips per night.
Below are symptoms during urination and after urination that are more common in men:
Slow Stream: reduced urine flow rate in comparison to previous or to others
Hesitancy: difficulty or delay initiating urination
Intermittency: stops and starts more than one or more times during urination
Straining: muscular effort to initiate, maintain or improve urine flow
Terminal Dribble: prolong final end of urination
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