Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, with more than 250,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Prostate cancer treatment can include radiation, chemotherapy and/or surgery – and all these options can result in temporary or permanent urinary incontinence. That is because the prostate gland surrounds the urethra. Removing the prostate through surgery or destroying it through radiation frequently disrupts how the bladder holds urine and can result in leakage. So what can you do to minimize the severity and duration of your post-treatment incontinence? We’ve talked to a lot of guys and healthcare professionals and they’ve shared some of their best recommendations for taking back control of your bladder and reducing incontinence after prostate cancer.
Reducing Incontinence After Prostate Cancer
#1: Get off that Foley ASAP!
You will most likely be placed on a Foley catheter for up to two weeks following prostate surgery. But there are risks to keeping the Foley in place too long, namely – increased muscle weakness, urinary tract infections and catheter induced hypospadias.
So as soon as your doctor recommends, get off that Foley! There are lots of options for managing incontinence after surgery but only one without complications – Men’s Liberty.
#2: Keep an eye on your liquid intake? Avoid diuretics.
It’s important to stay hydrated, but that doesn’t mean you need to chug a liter of soda. Avoid caffeine or carbonated drinks that can irritate your bladder and make you urinate more frequently. Check your urine for color (lighter is better) and if your urine ever turns a dark yellow – watch out, you’re dehydrated!
#3: Do your Kegel exercises!
Although more commonly associated with women, there are Kegel exercises out there for men. MedicineNet.com suggests the following to alleviate some forms of urinary incontinence:
Kegels are easy to do, once you know which muscles to target. One of the easiest ways to locate your muscles is during urination. Here’s how:
- Halfway through urination, try to stop or slow down the flow of urine.
- Don’t tense the muscles in your buttocks, legs, or abdomen, and don’t hold your breath.
- When you can slow or stop the flow of urine, you’ve successfully located these muscles.
Some men find these muscles by imagining that they are trying to stop the passage of gas. Squeezing these muscles gives a pulling sensation; these are the right muscles for pelvic exercises. It’s important not to contract other muscles.
To do Kegel exercises for men:
- Contract these muscles for a slow count of five.
- Release the muscles to a slow count of five.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Do a set of 10 Kegels daily, three times a day.
When you’re first starting, it may be easier to do Kegel exercises lying down, so your muscles aren’t fighting against gravity. It may also be easier to contract the muscles for just two or three seconds at first.
After a few weeks, increase the time until eventually you’re contracting the muscles for a slow five or 10 seconds, and do the exercises standing up. That puts more weight on the muscles, boosting your workout and improving your control. Remember not to tense your buttock, legs, or stomach muscles while you’re doing Kegels.
#4: Establish a goal and stick with it!
Once you’ve mastered the mechanics, set goals on how you can remain active. Make a schedule and establish routes with available restrooms. Try finding a support group because life is more pleasant when you can share your challenges with other people who understand. Exercise as much as you can. Create a daily routine involving moderate physical activity and make it permanent.
The typical response when dealing with urine control is to cut back on social activities. This is understandable until you learn to manage it. But that’s the key – manage it; then get out and live life to the fullest.
#5: Talk to your doctor!
As the patient, it’s your job to be proactive. Don’t shy away from doing your own research and asking your Doctor about what you find. Most people with incontinence never mention it to their doctor. And when a patient comes in wearing a diaper, the Doctor may not even bring it up!
If you want a better option or have questions about your incontinence, ASK!!
Have you got any techniques that have worked well for you for reducing incontinence after prostate cancer? Let us know!