Many men develop bladder control problems as they get older. Urine leakage, frequent urination, or the urgent need to urinate are not unavoidable parts of aging. There are some successful treatment options for bladder control problems.

What kind of bladder control problems do men have?

Men can have several types of bladder control problems.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the accidental leakage of urine. Urine can leak in three ways:

  • When you cough, sneeze, or lift—actions that put pressure on the bladder
  • Following a sudden, strong urge to urinate
  • As a constant dribble; men with this problem usually need to urinate often and only pass small amounts of urine each time.

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder squeezes urine out at the wrong time. Your loved one may have overactive bladder if he/she has two or more of these symptoms:

  • Urination eight or more times a day, or two or more times at night
  • The sudden, strong need to urinate immediately
  • Urine leakage that follows a sudden, strong urge to urinate

UI and overactive bladder may be caused by prostate or nerve problems, in other instances the cause of overactive bladder is not clear.

Prostate Problems

The prostate is a male gland about the size of a walnut that surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body.

An enlarged prostate, common among older men, may squeeze the urethra and result in a weak urine stream, an urgent need to urinate followed by leakage, and frequent urination, especially at night.

Surgery or radiation to treat prostate cancer can lead to temporary or permanent bladder control problems.

Damaged nerves may send signals to the bladder at the wrong time or send no signals at all, leading to bladder control problems. Spinal cord injuries or conditions such as diabetes or stroke may cause nerve problems.

Bladder Control Treatment Options

As a general rule, the simplest and safest treatments should be considered first. Changing some daily habits may help. For example, limit fluids at certain times of the day or plan regular trips to the bathroom to avoid accidents.

Don't be embarrassed to talk with your doctor about your loved one's bladder control issues. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to calm abnormal nerve signals to the bladder. Other medicines relax the bladder or shrink the prostate. Surgery is a treatment option that can help bladder control problems caused by nerve damage.

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There are several ways to "train" the bladder that involve diet and some simple exercises. Ask your doctor about bladder control techniques that can help.

Frequent or painful urination, especially with blood in the urine, could be signs of bladder cancer. If your loved one has these symptoms, see your doctor.

Source: The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services