Urinary incontinence in men is an embarrassing problem but is often a treatable one. Depending on the cause, the condition may be fully reversible. In some instances, surgical intervention is necessary to fix the problem. There are, however, medications and other treatment options you should try before turning to surgery. Here are five steps that are critical to reversing urinary incontinence in men. Most of them are treatments you can try yourself at home without any fear of unwanted side effects or problems, although working with your doctor is recommended.
1- Make Dietary Changes
If you’re struggling with incontinence, try changing your dietary habits. Consider consuming less fluid overall, especially during the evening hours before going to bed. Make sure the liquids you do consume are free of bladder irritants and stimulants such as caffeine, carbonation and alcohol. Some foods are also known to irritate the bladder and should be avoided. These include citrus, chocolate, tomatoes, vinegar and dairy. The artificial sweetener aspartame also irritates the bladder, as do spicy foods. Dietary changes alone aren’t likely to cure incontinence, but they may reduce the number of leakage episodes you experience.
Medical science seems to recommend exercise as a treatment for every ailment, and urinary incontinence is no different. Though it can be difficult to find your motivation when you’re worried about an accident, exercise is a crucial tool in fighting incontinence. Ideally, you should make time each week for 2 1/2 hours of modest exercise or 1 1/4 hours of vigorous exercise. In addition to your workouts, begin doing Kegel exercises. Your doctor can explain how to perform this simple pelvic floor exercise that strengthens your bladder control muscles.
3- Schedule a Prostate Exam
Men with urinary incontinence need to schedule a prostate exam. This exam will tell your doctor whether or not your prostate is enlarged. If it is, it is possible that your expanded prostate is putting pressure on your bladder or urethra. Over time, this weakens the bladder and prevents it from emptying itself completely, which eventually leads to urinary incontinence. Treating any prostate problems could be enough to resolve your incontinence.
4- Train Your Bladder
Training your bladder is an effective way to fight urinary incontinence. Begin by keeping a bladder journal or diary. In it, record when you go to the bathroom or experience a urine leak. Look at the journal to see how often you’re urinating, both voluntarily and involuntarily, and use that data to create a bathroom schedule. If you’re leaking urine every three hours, make it a point to visit the bathroom every two hours. Continue visiting the bathroom on this schedule until urine leakage stops, then try slowly increasing the amount of time between bathroom trips. Putting your bladder on a routine schedule helps you retrain and slowly stretch your bladder so it can hold more urine at a time without leaks.
5- Prevent Constipation and Coughs
Though coughing and constipation may seem to have little in common, both can lead to urinary incontinence in men. The reason is that both place stress on the muscles of the bladder and surrounding area. To avoid constipation, get plenty of fiber through fruits, vegetables and beans. If you’re not getting enough fiber from your diet, consider taking a fiber supplement. If you smoke, quit to avoid chronic smoker’s cough. If you need help quitting or already have a chronic cough, talk to your doctor for help.
If you’re dealing with urinary incontinence, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), approximately 34% of men are affected by incontinence. With some lifestyle changes and the help of a doctor, it is often possible to reverse or effectively manage the condition. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the help you need to manage this common problem.