Doctor K: Kegels may ease male incontinence
DEAR DOCTOR K: I have urinary incontinence that started after I was treated for prostate cancer. What can I do?
DEAR READER: The involuntary leakage of urine, urinary incontinence, unfortunately is a common – and aggravating – side effect of prostate cancer treatment. In some cases, incontinence improves on its own. If it doesn’t, there are several options for treating, or at least managing, the problem.
If you have stress incontinence, you leak small amounts of urine when you cough, sneeze, exercise or put pressure on your bladder. Kegel exercises may help strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor. This allows you to delay urinating until you reach a toilet.
You may have thought that Kegel exercises were something only women do. In fact, the muscles that are strengthened with Kegel exercises are the same in both sexes. (I’ve put a description of how to perform Kegel exercises on my website, AskDoctorK.com.)
If your stress incontinence resulted from having your prostate gland removed, bulking agents can help. A physician injects a substance, usually collagen, into the area once occupied by your prostate. This supports your urethra so you don’t lose urine as easily.
Urge incontinence occurs when your bladder suddenly contracts and expels urine. You get an urge to urinate even though you know you emptied your bladder not long before. You urinate, and then get the urge again a half-hour later.
Bladder retraining helps by increasing the amount of urine your bladder can hold. In this technique you suppress your urge and gradually prolong the time between trips to the toilet. This really works, but now and then there’s a crisis. Overflow incontinence results when your bladder cannot empty completely. As a result, urine dribbles out. Alpha blocker drugs help to more fully empty the bladder.
To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com, or write: Ask Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115.