Overactive Bladder in Men
Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Do you feel like you're using the washroom more often than you used to? If yes, you're not alone. Many men live with symptoms of an overactive bladder that leave them embarrassed and limit their daily activities. Fortunately, treatment options and lifestyle changes can help alleviate an overactive bladder and regain control.
Enlarged prostate vs. overactive bladder
Having an enlarged prostate is not the same as an overactive bladder. However, an overactive bladder (OAB) is often a symptom of an enlarged prostate, a common consequence of getting older.
The urethra passes through the prostate. As a result, having an enlarged prostate puts pressure on the urethra, restricting urine flow. As a result, the bladder has to work harder to counteract resistance which can lead receptors in the bladder to become very sensitive and send signals to the brain that you need to urinate. The resulting urge to urinate is called OAB. An enlarged prostate can be the culprit for this scenario and many more. Other symptoms of an enlarged prostate and urinary issues include:
- Difficulty initiating urine flow
- Straining or forcing to urinate
- Weak or intermittent urine stream
- Increased frequency of needing to urinate, including at nighttime
- Urinary dribbling
Other causes of urinary leakage
An enlarged prostate is the most common cause of male incontinence problems, but many other elements can lead to frequent urges to urinate or urinary incontinence. Other factors include:
- Weak pelvic floor muscles cause urine to remain trapped and pool in the urethra when you urinate. After you've finished, you can experience urinary leakage in small amounts, known as "post-micturition dribbling."
- Stress urinary incontinence (involuntary incontinence during coughing, laughing, sneezing, or exercise), although not as common in men, can occur after prostate surgery when the sphincter muscle is weakened or damaged, preventing it from closing the urethra completely.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Chronic Constipation
- Bladder Stones
- Uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus
- Mobility Issues (e.g., the physical inability to get to the washroom in time)
- Excessive Caffeine Consumption
- Medications that affect the urinary tract (e.g., diuretic)
- Neurological conditions (e.g., Parkinson's disease or Multiple Sclerosis)
Despite the discomfort and its direct effect on one's work, social life and sleep, many people find the condition embarrassing and don't seek medical advice or treatment. However, overactive bladder or urinary leakage/incontinence doesn't have to dictate your life. Instead, you can take back control of your life with the proper treatment and advice.
The first step in treatment is getting a diagnosis by a qualified physician who understands your medical background (urinary tract health, lifestyle, current medications, medical conditions, previous treatments, etc.). Your doctor may also ask you to keep a bladder diary to understand your situation better. Next, a thorough physical examination will be conducted to understand the current condition and health of your lower urinary tract and bladder. Finally, your doctor will recommend various treatment options tailored to your individual needs based on the diagnosis (which may vary from person to person).
You may have heard that many people with overactive bladders experience relief from their symptoms by making certain lifestyle choices. However, before making any changes, please consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment recommendations based on your individual needs, as it's essential to determine what is causing the problem.
If lifestyle changes are recommended, here are some common ones to expect:
- Retraining your bladder
- Monitor your drinking habits
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Weight loss
- Using incontinence products