How To Manage Stress Incontinence: Are the Effects of Stress Incontinence Reversible?
When we search for urinary incontinence resources and products, we often find information for urinary incontinence in women related to conditions like menopause or excess estrogen production. But the truth is that it often affects men, as well. Urinary incontinence affects somewhere between 12 and 17% of men across the United States.
That’s why MDP (Male Drip Protection) is dedicated to providing information and products that men can rely on to help them feel comfortable and confident every day.
Here’s a closer look at stress incontinence and how you can best manage the effects at home today.
What Is Stress Incontinence?
There are six types of urinary incontinence, including urge incontinence (overactive bladder), mixed incontinence, and stress incontinence. Understanding the causes behind each can better help you communicate with your healthcare provider during your physical exam, reduce risk factors, and find relief and treatment options.
One of the most common types is stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is related to physical stress on the bladder that causes urine leakage rather than emotional or mental stress.
That said, a side effect of stress incontinence may be emotional, as loss of bladder control can impact our sense of independence and control. It’s useful to understand the common causes of the different types of urinary incontinence to improve bladder control and boost self-esteem.
Stress incontinence occurs when physical exertion, such as sneezing, coughing, jumping, or laughing, puts extra pressure on the bladder. It may often occur during exercise or increased physical movement that causes abdominal pressure.
Typically, only a small amount of urine leakage occurs, but it often overrides the body’s ability to hold in urine. Essentially, the added pressure affects the urethra, causing the sphincter muscle inside to open where it otherwise wouldn’t, and this is what causes urine leaks.
Is Stress Incontinence Reversible?
The good news is that you have different options for managing the effects of urinary stress incontinence with the support of your physical therapist and healthcare provider. Stress incontinence has been known to come and go, depending on the trigger.
For instance, chronic coughing due to illness may increase urinary stress incontinence, and you may find that leakage lessens after the cough goes away. Sudden stress incontinence may be brought on by a large physiological change, like sudden weight gain or damage to the pelvic floor muscles.
It may also result from conditions related to aging, certain medications, or acute conditions like constipation that put excess strain on the bladder system.
Because there are so many different reasons stress incontinence may develop, there are many different treatment options. For the most part, physical therapists and healthcare providers will recommend nonsurgical treatments instead of surgical procedures or options because you can perform some of the most effective management techniques at home.
When pelvic surgery is deemed the most viable option for managing urinary stress incontinence, options will include a male sling procedure and the placement of an artificial sphincter muscle, which can prevent leakage during periods of abdominal pressure.
Tips for Managing Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence is caused by weakened muscles and specific triggers. There are also different types of conditions and lifestyle behaviors that can increase your risk of developing urinary stress incontinence.
All that means you have options regarding urinary stress incontinence management, including some of the following.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises, are one of the most commonly recommended methods for managing the effects of urinary stress incontinence. That’s because pelvic floor muscle training essentially supports the urinary sphincter and strengthens the muscles in the pelvic system through muscle contractions, so they can better hold urine and prevent urine leakage.
Before beginning any pelvic floor exercise, talk to your healthcare provider to ensure it is a safe option for you. Once you get the okay from your doctor, you want to start by learning the different muscles that make up the system.
Be sure not to flex your abs, thighs, or buttocks during this process. Practice using the muscles that would allow you to stop the flow of urine mid-stream. If you’re struggling to find these pelvic floor muscles, consider practicing lying down first before moving to a sitting or standing position.
Urology experts recommend practicing these muscle exercises about three times daily for about 10 reps each. It’s also useful to practice them when you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, so you can strengthen the muscles during periods of abdominal pressure.
Another way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and reduce the effects of stress urinary incontinence is through bladder training. Bladder training is when you follow a voiding schedule to train the muscles to hold urine for longer.
This is done by setting up reasonable intervals between urination, and avoiding bathroom trips unless absolutely necessary. It’s also recommended that you try to void your bladder completely when visiting the restroom, so you won’t have to go again for a while.
Depending on your stress urinary incontinence severity, you’ll want to schedule bathroom visits at certain intervals, say every 30, 45, or 60 minutes, and try to keep to that schedule. Once you meet your goals, increase the time between bathroom visits. It can be helpful to keep a bladder diary to maintain your schedule.
Use the above suppressions and pelvic floor exercises to prevent accidents and hold your urine between visits.
While there is no one specific food that can entirely eliminate urinary incontinence, regardless of the cause, there are some foods and ingredients that can make it more extreme. For instance, both caffeine and alcohol act as stimulants in the bladder system, which can leave you feeling like you need to urinate, even when your bladder isn’t full.
Reducing triggers and consuming high-fiber foods can help regulate your system, so you can better practice bladder training. It's important to note that you don’t want to skip the water.
While fluid intake can lead to more frequent urination, dehydration can cause constipation, which affects urinary incontinence. Make sure you’re staying hydrated every day.
Make Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Some of the most common risk factors for urinary stress incontinence are related to diet and lifestyle. Obesity or having chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk for symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, so you may want to try to make lifestyle changes. These can include striving for weight loss and properly managing your chronic conditions to reduce symptoms and effects.
If pelvic floor training and lifestyle changes don’t improve incontinence, it’s always a good idea to visit your primary care doctor for a more detailed analysis. They may request a cystoscopy or other form of urodynamic testing to determine the cause of your incontinence.
Based on their findings and how much urine you lose in a day, your doctor may recommend surgical interventions like electrical stimulation of the sacral nerve, Botox, a retropubic colposuspension or bladder neck suspension to support the bladder neck, or urethral bulking agents.
Stress urinary incontinence can leave men feeling isolated and lonely, and can reduce their capacity for independence, especially with age. That’s why our team here at MDP is dedicated to providing the materials and information that give men back their confidence every time they walk out the door.
We’re sharing all you need to know about common triggers and management techniques for conditions related to incontinence, and we have the products that will give you peace of mind on the go.
Stress urinary incontinence is just one of the conditions we’re here to help you with. It’s the most common form of urinary incontinence, and occurs when excess pressure is put on the bladder, due to sneezing, coughing, or exercising.
The good news is that simple lifestyle changes, trigger avoidance, and bladder and pelvic floor training and exercises can make a difference, along with optional surgeries.
And in the meantime, check out the discreet, two-strap Male Drip Protection product we’ve created to give you that little extra peace of mind, no matter what the day ahead might hold.
Male Stress Urinary Incontinence: A Review of Surgical Treatment Options and Outcomes - PMC
Types of urinary incontinence - Harvard Health
Stress Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment | Cleveland Clinic