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The Prostate and Male Urinary Incontinence

The Prostate and Male Urinary Incontinence

Male urinary leakage, the prostate, and incontinence may not be the kind of topics for polite dinner table conversation. However, it is important for men to be informed about these issues and how they influence and affect others. 

Your prostate is like a walnut

Any dialogue regarding male urinary incontinence or bladder leakage naturally involves a discussion of the prostate. How much do you know about your prostate gland? Located just below the bladder surrounding the urethra, the prostate's main job is to produce a fluid that combines with sperm to form semen. By 20 years old, your prostate is about the size of a walnut, approximately18-20 grams.

Just like your ears, your prostate never stops growing

Prostate growth is normal and often goes unnoticed. However, for some men, an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can cause several symptoms. This can include difficulty initiating urine stream, feeling that the bladder is not emptying completely, intermittent or weak urine stream, and/or frequent urge to urinate, including at nighttime. Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are quite common in men over the age of 40 and with a good treatment plan, these symptoms can be reduced. 


An enlarged prostate does not mean cancer 

Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are not to be confused with prostate cancer symptoms. There aren't many early warning signs of prostate cancer, but family history and diet can be risk factors. Consult with your doctor about the first steps in checking for prostate cancer.  

Prostate cancer grows slowly in many cases, and because incontinence can be a side effect, active monitoring is often the preferred treatment rather than surgery. A prostatectomy, a surgery involving the removal of the entire prostate, can disrupt the sphincter's function and lead to urinary leakage and stress incontinenceThere are medications, surgeries, and for some mild cases, pelvic floor exercises that help strengthen and alleviate some of the symptoms to improve bladder control and reduce urinary leakage. Whether you're concerned about any symptoms, testing, or risks associated with prostate cancer, it's best to talk to your doctor to inform you.  

The prostate is often not the culprit 

While an enlarged prostate can cause urinary leaks, bladder, and other types of incontinence in men, when determining the root cause of male incontinence, we need to look beyond the pelvic region and examine the brain. 

Your central nervous system is responsible for controlling your "voiding reflexes," or the ability to hold back when you need to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, these critical circuits in the brain can be disrupted when you experience trauma, such as a brain injury or stroke, resulting in involuntary leaks. However, the disruption may not be as severe as a stroke; rather, it could be a minor disruption of blood and oxygen to the brain, something that is tied to a deficient diet and inactive lifestyle. Poor diet has not been clinically proven to cause incontinence, but a healthy diet and active lifestyle are highly considered beneficial.  

Male urinary leakage treatment and symptom management are possible. Pelvic floor exercises for men and discreet and comfortable products are available to help manage your condition. Talk to your healthcare professional if you have any questions about prostate and urinary incontinence.  

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