Prostate Health & Incontinence
Prostate Gland 101
The prostate is a small gland, roughly the size and shape of a walnut, that aids in the creation of semen. It is only found in men and rests below the bladder surrounding part of the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder. There are two common types of prostate problems:
- Enlarged prostate
A condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common problem that affects more than 50% of men in their sixties. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, BPH can be managed with lifestyle changes, medication or surgery. Some of these treatments, especially surgery, can lead to incidences of incontinence.
- Prostate cancer
This is when a malignant tumor forms in the prostate gland, which can spread throughout the body and cause significant health problems. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men. Close to 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
How to improve your prostate health
Follow these three easy steps to help improve the health of your prostate:
- Eat Right
If you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, you’re at a lower risk of developing cancer of any kind, including prostate cancer.
- Get Active
It's recommended you exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Get Physical
Make it a practice to have a physical every year so you can detect prostate cancer and other health issues before they get out of hand.
Improving your symptoms after prostate cancer surgery
Here are some things you can do to improve your symptoms after prostate cancer surgery:
- Pelvic floor muscle treatments
Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles you squeeze when trying to stop urinating mid-stream.
- Supportive care
Drink fewer fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Do not drink at bedtime, and try to urinate regularly.
A variety of medications can increase bladder capacity and decrease frequency of urination.
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation
This treatment is used to retrain and strengthen weak urinary muscles and improve bladder control. Consult your doctor about this option.
- Artificial sphincter
This patient-controlled device encircles the urethra and prevents urine from leaking in 70-80% of patients.
- Bulbourethral sling
This device suspends and compresses the urethra to achieve bladder control. It is made from synthetic material or the patient's own tissue.
- Other surgery
Your doctor can also place rubber rings around the tip of the bladder to help hold urine.
Leakage after treatment
Removing the prostate through surgery or destroying it through radiation will disrupt the way the bladder holds urine, resulting in leakage. Radiation can decrease the capacity of the bladder and cause spasms that force urine out. Surgery can damage nerves that help control bladder function too.The right product will help you gain the confidence you need to accept and manage the condition. Find out which Depend® product works best for you here.
Bowel incontinence 101
Bowel Incontinence, also referred to as Fecal Incontinence or Accidental bowel leakage, is the inability to control bowel movements resulting in an unexpected leakage of stool. Leakage may occur in small amounts consisting of mucus and liquid stool, or more frequently consisting of solid stool. It may be experienced with symptoms such as an urgent need to have a bowel movement, spotting of stool, diarrhea, or constipation. There are two common types of bowel leakage:
- Urge Bowel Incontinence – you experience a sudden urge to have a bowel movement, but cannot make it to the bathroom in time
- Passive Bowel Incontinence – nothing is felt to indicate that a bowel movement is going to occur
Though it can be embarrassing, it is important to remember that bowel leakage is common and manageable. Approximately 18 million adults – 9% of women and 8% of men experience it in some form. The incidence of bowel leakage increases with age.
Many people resort to altering their lives to cope with bowel leakage, but it could be as easy as finding the right undergarment to help manage the condition and give your confidence a boost. Find what works best for you.
As every person’s body is different, talking to your doctor about your specific symptoms offers the best chance of managing, reducing or even eliminating leaks.
Risk factors for bowel incontinence
Muscles and nerves of the rectum and anus must work together to hold stool, signal when it’s full, and release the stool. There are many reasons why this may not happen. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Chronic constipation (causes the muscles of the anus to stretch and weaken)
- Constipation due to “overflow” that can occur when stool becomes backed up and unformed stool leaks around the blockage
- Diarrhea as a result of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), diet, drugs, etc.
- Neurological disability or nerve disorders (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injury, etc.)
- Cognitive impairment
- Obstetric abnormalities
- Colo-rectal injury and surgery
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) vs. bowel incontinence
Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder resulting in symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, bowel urgency, the feeling of incomplete evacuation of stool after a bowel movement, and bowel incontinence.¹
Between 10–15% of Americans experience irritable bowel syndrome, many of whom experience bowel incontinence as a result.² There are a variety of treatment options for IBS that help improve individual symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms of IBS such as bowel incontinence.
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2016 from http://uclacns.org/patients/disease-information/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/
2. Wald, Arnold M.D. Clinical Manifestations and Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Adults. (2014, November 14). Retrieved from http://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-irritable-bowel-syndrome-in-adults
Products for bowel incontinence
Depend® offers a range of products and absorbency levels depending on the amount of leakage you experience. For light to moderate amount of leakage, choose Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear with maximum absorbency and worry-free odour control.
Products for IBS
For mild IBS, Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear or Real Fit® Briefs will offer good balance of protection and comfort in a pull-on style, just like regular underwear. For more pronounced IBS symptoms, Depend® Protection with Tabs offers maximum absorbency with side barriers to protect against leakage and four refastenable tabs for discreet, easy removal.
How to talk to your doctor about incontinence
Since every person’s body is different, getting advice specific to yours offers the best chance of managing, reducing or even eliminating leaks. Remember, bladder and bowel leakage are symptoms that are not new to your doctor. To make the conversation easier, write down and share the following things:
- When you leak
- How often you leak
- How much you leak
- Any triggers or activities that cause you to leak
- Why you feel this is bothersome.
This will help your doctor determine the best option for treatment.
How to talk to your family about incontinence
Consider recruiting the emotional support of your family and sharing what you are doing about your symptoms and what you have learned. Their empathy and support will help you be more empowered, proactive and prevent the tendency to develop coping behaviours that may not be in your best wellness interest or theirs.
The more you know about incontinence, the more you can live your life and not your condition. Here are some online sources and organizations to learn more:
WebMD.com. The leading online source for trustworthy and timely health and medical news and information.
MayoClinic.org. The online site for one of the most highly respected medical practices in the world.