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Experiencing Urine Leakage after Prostate Cancer

Often after men have had radiation or surgery for prostate cancer they experience urine leakage which is commonly known as urinary incontinence (UI). For many men, post-prostatectomy incontinence resolves itself in four to six months after the operation. Fully understanding bladder function and why male UI occurs after prostate cancer treatments is crucial to the fast revival of bladder control.

The bladder's purpose is to receive urine from the kidneys and act as a holding tank until it is full and signals you to urinate. During urination, the muscles surrounding the bladder contract pushing urine out of your bladder and into a tube called the urethra. The muscles around the urethra then relax and allow urine to flow out of your body. In men, the prostate gland surrounds the urethra and as a result, an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer treatment can affect urination.

The most common type of UI in men is stress incontinence or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and often occurs after a prostatectomy. Stress incontinence is when involuntary leakage or dripping of urine occurs due to inadequate strength of the pelvic floor muscles. Any movements that increase pressure in the abdominal area such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, physical activity, etc. will cause the leakage of small amounts of urine. Prostate surgery can weaken or damage the muscles that surround the bladder and urethra or can damage the nerves that help control bladder function and cause stress incontinence.

After radiation treatment urge incontinence (also known as overactive bladder) can occur. Urge incontinence is when the bladder's muscular wall has a sudden contraction causing an urgency to urinate and an involuntary loss of urine. Sitting, standing or fast movements can trigger urge incontinence. Those with this type of incontinence can experience urine leakage during sleep, after consuming a small amount of water or when they touch or hear water running.

Most men will experience UI of some form after prostate cancer treatments, but doctors have recently developed new ways to reduce the occurrence. Surgeons now have the ability to save more of the muscle surrounding the bladder and the urethra when removing the prostate. Doctors have also grown more accurate, with the help of new computer technology, in using radiation to destroy the prostate while minimizing the effects on the bladder. Both of these developments help patients retain the ability to control their bladder much more quickly after treatment.

Treating and managing UI after prostate cancer can range from at home techniques and post-operative support to medication and surgery. Talk with your doctor to determine which treatment or set of treatments is best for you. Most doctors will encourage you to try bladder training and behavioral techniques before trying devices, surgeries and medication.

Bladder training and behavioral techniques can teach you how to manage your UI and regain pelvic floor strength. They are successful approaches to treating both stress and urge incontinence. Kegel exercises, which involve the repeated squeezing of the muscles you use when stopping urination mid-stream; bathroom schedules, setting specific times to go to the bathroom; and lifestyle modification, the changing of habits to avoid caffeine, alcohol, irritants, drinking less fluids and not drinking before sleep are all a part of reviving bladder control.

Don't be embarrassed by UI leakage after prostate cancer treatment, learn properly how to manage it to give you the most comfort during the healing process. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat it and about which incontinence products will provide you with proper protection. Discreet delivery programs are available to bring the products directly to your door and save you money.