Bladder weakness in men can be a taboo subject and something that men would rather not talk about. Understanding the contributing factors to bladder weakness can help to ease symptoms and manage them more effectively.
What types of bladder weakness do men have?
There are a number of different types of urinary incontinence. Men do not have a different ‘type’ of incontinence to women but can be more likely to have one than another. The different types of incontinence include:
- Stress Incontinence
- Urge Incontinence
- Overflow Incontinence
Stress incontinence is leaking urine when your bladder is under stress which will usually include sneezing, coughing or exercising. Urge incontinence is leaking urine when your urge to urinate cannot be held until you get to the toilet and overflow incontinence is where you have a continuous small leaking of urine.
Overflow incontinence is more common in men than women and is the most common type of bladder weakness in men. It is characterised by leaking urine gradually throughout the day and may include wetting the bed at night too. Overflow incontinence stems from not being able to fully empty your bladder, leading to unexpected leakages.
What are the common causes of bladder weakness in men?
Causes of bladder weakness and urinary incontinence in men are vast, but some common causes can include:
Obstruction in urethra
An obstruction or blockage in your urethra can cause problems in emptying your bladder fully. This can lead to extra urine being stored in you bladder and lead to overflow incontinence. There could be a number of causes of this obstruction, including:
- A benign grown obstructing the urethra
- Swelling or infection in the urethra
- Strictures which narrow the urethra
If you feel this may be the case for you it is important to visit your GP. Your GP will be able to diagnose the problem correctly and may be able to offer medication and advice on how to budge the obstruction.
Weak pelvic floor muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that you use to control the sphincters to control your release of urine and bowel movements. If these muscles weaken, this can make if more difficult to keep control of your urine and prevent it from leaking out as well as squeezing the bladder to get all of the urine out. Common causes of pelvic floor weakness are:
- Surgery to the lower back or pelvis
- Diseases or health conditions that weaken muscle, for example MS
- Trauma to the lower back or pelvis
A number of health conditions have been associated with bladder weakness in men. Most health conditions that affect your bladder are associated with nerves or nerve damage, as this affects your control of the sphincters that you need to keep control of your bladder. Some health conditions associated with bladder weakness in men, include:
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Enlarged Prostate or prostate surgery
- Spina Bifida
- Overactive bladder (can be caused by nerve damage, or without any obvious cause)
- Spinal injury
A number of medications have been linked to bladder weakness in men. If you believe your medication is contributing to a bladder weakness problem it is important to not stop taking the medication but to speak to your GP about your concerns. You may be able to change medication to avoid these side effects, or work on relieving some of the symptoms. Medications that have been linked to bladder weakness in men include:
- Muscle relaxants
Excess pressure or irritation
The excess pressure or strain on your bladder, or common bladder irritants can be a contributing factor to bladder weakness. Causes of excess pressure or strain can include:
- Excess drinking of alcohol
- Chronic constipation
How can men ease their symptoms of bladder weakness?
Understanding which type of bladder weakness or incontinence you suffer from, or which mixture is the first step in tackling the problem. Going on to understanding the potential causes or contributing factors may also help you to improve your situation.
If you are concerned about the weakness of your pelvic floor muscles you can work on strengthening them by performing regular pelvic floor exercises. To identify the muscle, try to stopping the flow of urine while urinating, you will feel a muscle contract. This muscle is your pelvic floor. To exercise and strengthen this muscle, try contracting it as hard as you can for 3-4 seconds at a time multiple times a day – not while urinating though.
If you believe your bladder weakness cause to be out of your control, maybe a health condition you can work on managing your condition and easing anything that may be an aggressor. For example, finding a product that you are confident in and comfortable wearing can be a very important stage in coming to terms and managing bladder weakness. You can also work on removing irritants or other factors that may be making it worse. If you are overweight for example, losing the excess pounds that may be putting extra strain on your bladder could help improve your symptoms. Also try cutting down on bladder irritating food and drink and treating any treatable conditions such as constipation or a urinary tract infection.
If you are worried about your symptoms or experience bladder weakness, visit your GP. Their advice and medical opinion can help you to identify possible aggressors that could help to minimise the impact bladder weakness has on your every day life.