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Treatments For Incontinence

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Updated January 22, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Treatments For Incontinence
What can I do about incontinence after my prostate surgery?
Answer:

It is a bitter irony that most men have great difficulty urinating before having prostate surgery only to experience incontinence after the procedure. Fortunately, there are many treatments available for incontinence, and new research shows that simple interventions like pelvic floor exercises can be highly effective.

Over half of all men who have prostate surgery experience a degree of urinary incontinence. The problem can range from having urine "dribbles" after a trip to the bathroom to being unable to control urine at all in the most severe cases.

There are treatments available for incontinence after prostate surgery, that range from exercises that require only a few minutes per day to medications and other interventions designed to prevent embarrassing accidents.

Exercises To Treat Incontinence:

Pelvic Floor Exercises: These exercises help strengthen the muscles of the pelvis, which in turn help improve urinary control and minimize leakage.

Kegel Exercises For Men: These exercises are one type of pelvic floor exercise. Plan to perform these for no less than 90 contractions per day, which will take only minutes each day.

Bladder Training: Establishing a new routine for urination can help minimize episodes of incontinence.

Lifestyle Changes For Incontinence

Some of the best treatments for incontinence are the easiest to implement. Lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on incontinence, yet they are free and easily accomplished.

Fluid Management: This simply means drinking small amounts steadily through the day instead of drinking large quantities at one time and not drinking in the hours before bedtime.

Caffeine Intake: Caffeine contributes to incontinence in two ways. Caffeine is a bladder stimulant, which can trigger an episode of incontinence and is also a diuretic, which causes an increase in urine production.

Medical Treatments For Incontinence:

For some patients, medication provides the best improvement in incontinence symptoms. Medications vary in type, so your physician may have you try more than one medicine before choosing the one that is best for you.

  • Anticholinergics: The majority of incontinence drugs fall into this category, including Detrol, Toviaz and Enablex. These medications prevent unwanted bladder contractions and spasms, helping to prevent episodes of incontinence.

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: The reason that this classification of medication, which is typically a treatment for depression, works to treat incontinence is not well understood. It is theorized that these drugs soothe the muscles of the bladder that are often overactive, which can trigger incontinence.

  • Desmopressin: Commonly known as Anti-Diuretic Hormone, or ADH, this drug reduces the amount of urine produced, which can help prevent incontinence that occurs from an overly full bladder.

Incontinence Products:

Catheters: A catheter is a tube that is inserted into the urethra and advanced into the bladder. There are different types of catheters, including a foley catheter, which remains in place for an extended period of time and collects urine, or a straight catheter, which is inserted until the bladder is drained and removed immediately. A condom catheter is not inserted at all, rather, much like a condom, is inserted like a sheath over the penis.

Pads and Briefs: For those who are unable to control their incontinence completely with treatment, adult briefs, incontinence pads or control pads can help. Commonly known as "adult diapers" incontinence products come in a variety of styles and absorbencies. Some are small pads that can be inserted into undergarments that absorb the occasional dribble, while others take the place of underwear and are extremely absorbent.

These products can be ordered online for those who are not comfortable purchasing them in a traditional store.

Sources:

Pharmacotherapy for Stress Urinary Incontinence. Reviews In Urology. Tracy W Cannon, MD and Michael B Chancellor, MD. Accessed January 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1473013/

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