Incontinence Treatment Depends on Overall Health

Male urinary incontinence can come from a variety of sources. One prominent cause is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a natural enlargement of the prostate gland that occurs as a natural part of aging. BPH can cause what's known as "overflow incontinence," which is a condition caused by the bladder being unable to empty fully during a deliberate urination session, due to constriction or blockage of the urethra. Since the bladder depends on a clear urethra to empty itself properly, pressure can build up inside and force urine out past the blockage without warning.

BPH depends on age-related factors such as hormone balance that cannot be controlled, but maintaining a healthy level of activity will help preserve muscle tone in the pelvic area, which will help the bladder empty fully when required, and also help the urinary sphincter, which keeps the bladder closed during normal activities, operate normally. It is a popular urban myth that regular ejaculation will help maintain muscle tone in this area or even prevent BPH, but there is no medical news to support this claim.

Should this be insufficient, there are a number of therapies available. The first line of defense against male incontinence is behavioral therapy. Bladder retraining is a method of strengthening the bladder muscles and adjusting the time span between urinations by voiding at repetitive, timed intervals. The success of a timed-interval voiding procedure depends on its being followed strictly by the patient, but if followed through faithfully, bladder training can improve the bladder's capacity and extend the interval between voidings to the normal adult interval of about four hours. Biofeedback is another type of behavioral therapy, where a simple instrument detects when a chosen muscle relaxes or contracts and provides a secondary method of feedback for the patient, such as a light or sound. The added feedback allows patients to exercise and improve control of selected muscles.

These therapies are successful in many patients with incontinence, but they are not always enough. Some patients are very successful with bladder therapy during the day, but are unable to achieve the same results at night. Patients sometimes have "bad days" when their therapy doesn't seem to work, or when their symptoms are unusually severe. Some patients may not respond to behavioral therapy at all, or simply prefer not to take advantage of it. For these patients, protective devices such as pads or Depends adult undergarments may become part of the treatment.