Male incontinence is a common problem that can significantly impact a man’s quality of life. It can be embarrassing and isolating, leading many men to suffer silently. But did you know that physiotherapy can help?
Incontinence affects millions of men worldwide, but it’s a topic that is rarely discussed openly. Many men are unaware that there are effective treatments available, including physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy can effectively treat male incontinence, helping men regain bladder control and improve their quality of life.
Common causes of urinary incontinence
A variety of factors cause urinary incontinence in men. The majority of men who suffer from urinary incontinence experience symptoms such as:
- The bladder is overactive.
- Post-surgery, the urinary sphincter is weak.
- Having an ineffective bladder contraction.
- Nerve damage, spinal cord injuries or prostate issues.
Types of urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence in men can be classified into several types.
1. Stress incontinence
When you put a strain on your bladder, you get stress incontinence. For example, you may leak urine when sneezing, coughing, or laughing.
2. Urge incontinence
If you rush to the restroom because you’re afraid you won’t make it in time, you may suffer from urge incontinence even if you’ve had little to drink.
3. Overflow incontinence
If you have the urge to urinate but only a small amount comes out, you may have overflow incontinence.
4. Total incontinence
When the urinary sphincter no longer functions properly, you will most likely experience total incontinence, which means you constantly leak.
5. Mixed incontinence
You can have more than one type of urinary incontinence. Mixed incontinence is defined as having two or more types of incontinence.
What is the best treatment for male incontinence?
The male pelvic floor is different from the female pelvic floor in that it has a mechanical advantage created by the longer urethra in men, allowing the pelvic floor muscles to sit in a more effective position.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through pelvic floor exercises (PFE) or physiotherapy is beneficial in treating both urge and stress incontinence. Exercise strengthens the pelvic floor muscles and improves bladder control.
For men with stress, urge, or a combination of stress and urge urinary incontinence, training and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support the bladder and urethra) is recommended as the first line of physiotherapy treatment.
How to locate your pelvic floor muscles
Technique 1: Control the flow
When you go to the toilet, try stopping the flow of your urine mid-flow. If you can do this, then you are using the right muscles. BUT… DO NOT DO THIS REPETITIVELY!! This is not an exercise, just a way to identify your pelvic floor muscles. If you have trouble performing this step, you may need to see Enhance Physiotherapy to retrain your pelvic floor muscles.
Technique 2: Visualisation
Stand in front of a mirror with your clothes off. If you are tightening the right muscles, you should see the base of the penis draw inwards and the scrotum lifts upwards. Coincidently the rectum will tighten as well, but this is not the focus of the exercise.
Getting the right technique
Correct technique is the MOST IMPORTANT when doing pelvic floor exercises. You should feel a ‘’lift & squeeze” in your pelvis and keep breathing normally with your abdominal muscles relaxed. Once you master the correct technique, it’s time to progress.
Training your pelvic floor muscles
Once you have mastered the correct technique, you should aim to hold your contraction for 10 seconds. Once you can achieve this, you should aim to complete 10 repetitions, eventually progressing to 3 times daily. Make sure you continue to breathe!!
Start the exercises while lying down and then progress to sitting, standing, walking and other functional activities as you are ready.
Some recent research by the University of Queensland found that “shorten your penis” was the best cue for getting correct pelvic floor contraction.
Pre-op pelvic floor exercises
Due to the nature of prostate cancer and the urgency to remove the prostate, seeing a physiotherapist before your operation is not always possible. If you do, however, have the time, it is hugely beneficial to your post-op recovery. Research shows that men who can effectively contract their pelvic floor before surgery will regain continence more quickly than men who cannot contract their pelvic floor preoperatively.
Post-op bladder diary
Keeping this diary will allow you to see how well your bladder is storing after your surgery. It will also enable your physiotherapist to identify specific causes of your incontinence (caffeine, alcohol, increased intake, constipation).
Final thoughts on physiotherapy for male incontinence
Male incontinence can be frustrating and embarrassing, but physiotherapy offers a safe, effective, and non-invasive solution. By working with a qualified physiotherapist, men can regain control of their bladder and lives.
All consultations and discussions are 100% confidential, so don’t suffer in silence any longer – take the first step towards a better quality of life today!