Men silent on urinary incontinence – but it’s treatable

Urinary incontinence — accidental loss or leaking of urine — affects up to one in three older men, most of whom go untreated despite the discomfort caused.

Conditions that may cause urinary incontinence in men are ageing, obesity, prostate cancer, an enlarged prostate, nerve damage, bladder or urinary infections, constipation, weak bladder, neurological disorder or loss of sphincter strength.

The most common types of incontinence which affect men are:

  • Stress incontinence: when pressure on the bladder causes leaking.
  • Urgency incontinence or an “overactive bladder” leading to involuntary urination or leaking.
  • Overflow incontinence: when the bladder doesn’t empty properly and urine leaks.

Men may also experience mixed incontinence — a combination of some of the above.

Dr Frans van Wijk from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria – the only specialised institution of its kind in Africa with more than 20 urologists – says the condition is fairly common in both genders (especially in males over 60) and often goes untreated as many men find it uncomfortable to discuss the subject.

“Urinary incontinence affects all aspects of a patient’s quality of life. They avoid social interaction, become depressed and are more prone to falls and fractures.”

He said incontinence in both men and women is treatable and those who experience the condition should consult a urologist. Treatment ranges from simple lifestyle changes through to medication or surgery.

“The Urology Hospital specialises in treating all urological conditions, including urinary incontinence in both men and women. We recommend that anyone experiencing incontinence, or any other urological condition, contact us for a consultation and assessment,” added van Wijk.


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