Men's health and incontinence: Breaking the stigma
International Men’s Day is celebrated on 19 November. This year’s theme is ‘Healthy men, healthy world’. In line with this theme, let's have an open discussion about one of the most stigmatised aspect of men’s health: incontinence.
What causes incontinence in men?
Urinary incontinence, or poor bladder control, affects 1 in 10 men. The severity ranges, from occasional leaks when coughing or sneezing to a sudden, urgent need to urinate. Contrary to common belief, urinary incontinence is not an inevitable consequence of ageing, it may be linked to other underlying health issues such as:
How does incontinence affect men?
Though it’s rarely discussed, urinary continence is common in men over 40 – and it can have a significant impact on quality of life. The psychological toll includes loss of self-esteem, feelings of embarrassment, sadness and annoyance.
As the Continence Foundation of Australia notes, “The stress placed on a person with incontinence, and those who are caring for them, cannot be underestimated.”
The emotions associated with living with incontinence may include:
Frustration and anger
Managing Prostate Symptoms or Treatment
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and it’s estimated that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85.
Prostate cancer in its early stages typically doesn't exhibit symptoms. As it progresses, symptoms of later-stage prostate cancer may include:
Pain when urinating
A weak urine stream
Blood in the urine
Incontinence is a common side effect of prostate cancer surgery. The good news is most men regain bladder control as time goes on and are fully recovered within 6-12 months and pelvic floor exercises play an important role in this recovery.
Men and Pelvic Health
It's important to recognise that pelvic health is not exclusive to women. Men also have pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are like a hammock, running from the pubic bone in the front to the coccyx (tailbone) in the back. They play a crucial role in supporting the bladder and bowel, and their strength is vital in preventing urinary and faecal issues, as well as maintaining sexual function and sensation.
Pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by health and lifestyle factors such as:
A long-term, persistent cough due to smoking, bronchitis or asthma
The ageing process
Having had surgery for bladder or bowel problems
Persistent heavy lifting
Pelvic floor exercises help train the relevant muscles – as with any muscles, they become stronger with exercise.
Not sure how to do male pelvic floor exercises?
Strengthening the pelvic floor can help to ease:
Stress incontinence – leakage when you cough, sneeze or exercise
Urge incontinence – experiencing a sudden or frequent need to urinate
Faecal incontinence – passing faeces at the wrong time
A pelvic floor physiotherapist can demonstrate how to engage the pelvic floor muscles and offer guidance on suitable exercises.
Experiencing a loss of control over bladder and bowels can sometimes feel like a loss of control in other life aspects. Finding the appropriate continence solutions can help individuals regain control and restore confidence. The MoliCareⓇ Premium Men range includes specially designed pads and pants for men, offering extra protection, security, and support for effective leakage management and odour control. MoliCare continence products come in various styles, absorbencies, and sizes, ensuring an ideal fit for everyone.
With the right continence product, a sense of protection and control can be restored, supporting individuals to confidently navigate their day and enjoy what matters most. Control never felt so good!
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2. Continence Foundation of Australia, Pelvic floor muscles in men, https://www.continence.org.au/who-it-affects/men/male-pelvic-floor-muscles, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
3. Continence Foundation of Australia, Prostate, https://www.continence.org.au/who-it-affects/men/prostate, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
4. Cancer Council, Prostate cancer, https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/types-of-cancer/prostate-cancer, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
5. Continence Foundation of Australia, Prostate, https://www.continence.org.au/who-it-affects/men/prostate, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
6. Continence Foundation of Australia, Psychological impact, https://www.continence.org.au/life-incontinence/caring-someone/psychological-impact, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
7. Cheng MC, Liu SP, Chuang YC, Hsu KCP, Chow PM. Prevalence and impacts of male urinary incontinence on quality of life, mental health, work limitation, and health care seeking in China, Taiwan, and South Korea (LUTS Asia): Results from a cross-sectional, population-based study. Investig Clin Urol. 2022 Jan;63(1):71-82. doi: 10.4111/icu.20210259. PMID: 34983125; PMCID: PMC8756147. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34983125/, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
8. Continence Foundation of Australia, Psychological impact, https://www.continence.org.au/life-incontinence/caring-someone/psychological-impact, [Accessed 10 October 2023]
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