Patient Perspective: Roger's Story

Rogers Story of Living With Overactive Bladder

I see it all the time – the ads for OAB, featuring these women who have to run to the bathroom every five minutes. They’re always women, right? You never see a man in these ads.  But I’m a man, and quite frankly, I feel a little left out.

I have OAB. I’ve lived with this condition for the past several years. I don’t have any known reason for it – I’ve never had prostate issues, am not on many medications, and rarely get bladder infections. But the urge to use the bathroom strikes me often and it’s pretty annoying. I usually make it in time, but have had the occasional leak. I’ve talked with my doctor about it but after he determined that my prostate was normal, he sort of brushed it off for a while – I don’t think he’s used to hearing a man come in with this type of problem unless it’s prostate related. But I finally was persistent enough that he prescribed some medication.

I experienced so many negative side effects from each medication I tried over the course of several months that I stopped them completely. It was then that my doctor finally recommended Botox. Yes, I had Botox injected into my bladder. And I have to say it was one of the best things that happened to me. It took almost no time to work, I didn’t need to use a catheter (I guess some people need to), and it lasted about 6-7 months before I had to go back in for another treatment.

It took some pushing on my part, but I was able to get treatment for my OAB. If you’re a man with this condition, don’t let it control you, and don’t believe there’s not a treatment available for you. The media and drug companies focus on women because it’s more common for them to have these types of issues, but men can have them just as easily.  And the medications and procedures work just as well for us.

Do something about your OAB. I’m so glad I persisted and got treatment for it. It helps me live a fuller life without the worry of overactive bladder.

Roger S., New York, NY

Men: Let's Talk About Bladder Leakage

Bladder Leakage And Men

You don’t really hear much about incontinence in men. Let’s face it – it’s not something that anyone ever really wants to talk about, but for men, it can be especially hard. Men are supposed to be tough. Caretakers. Leaders. Defenders. Admitting to something like incontinence can feel like a slap in the face. But it’s something that happens to everyone – not just women – and it isn’t something that anyone should have to live with. 

Unfortunately though, many do. As many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15-64 may have some type of incontinence.  

Men – if you struggle with bladder leakage, we urge you to speak up about it. This doesn’t mean shouting about it from the rooftops. But a frank discussion with your doctor or a loved one is a good start.

Here are 4 good reasons to talk to Someone about your incontinence:

You’ll get some emotional support.

Have you ever had something on your mind that weighed on you? Keeping your incontinence a secret can have big effects on your emotional well-being. Many people who live with incontinence become more reclusive as time goes on and the condition worsens. They avoid social activities, or don’t do the things they once enjoyed because they’re scared of having an embarrassing accident in public. But this can mean isolating themselves from others, and hurting some of their close relationships. 

Lean in to those close to you and let them know what’s going on. You’ll likely find that their support motivates you to take the next step in talking to your doctor, where you can finally find some treatment.  Still not ready to talk to someone close? Try our message boards. They're filled with lots of people who struggle with bladder leakage and can be a great resource when you need some tips on how to manage, thoughts on treatment options, or even when you just need a place to vent. Trust us, they know what you’re going through, and are a wonderful and caring community where you can share your concerns without judgment.

You can find out what’s actually causing Your bladder leaks.

In most cases, incontinence is not the real condition – it’s a symptom of something else.  Talking to a professional about it may help you uncover the true source of what’s going on, which could be something that’s easily treated, or something that’s far more serious than some light bladder leakage. Either way, finding out is better than living in the dark, and will help you get the treatment you need to be on your way to recovery.

You’ll learn about the incontinence treatments options available to you.

We’ve come a long way from adult diapers being the only treatment option. While absorbent products are still great management tools, there are many things you can do to actually treat the symptoms and avoid leaks all together. Diet and exercise changes, kegels (yes - they're good for men too!), medications, minimally invasive procedures, and even surgical options all exist. Learning more about your options will help you find something that works for you and your lifestyle, and can feel very empowering.

There’s no good reason not to discuss it.

With so many treatment options available to you these days, there’s really not a reason to stay silent. Yes, it will probably be an uncomfortable discussion at first, but it’s not one that your doctor hasn’t had before.  They hear from men who have this problem all the time. Talk with them and begin getting treatment so that you can get back to the activities you once enjoyed, instead of worrying about your bladder.

NAFC has some great resources that can help you as you begin getting treatment. Check them out below:

NAFC Bladder Diary

Talking about Incontinence

OAB Resource Center

Bedwetting Guide

The Basics of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia

BPH

The prostate is a walnut shaped gland responsible for producing semen in a man’s reproductive system. Enlargement of this gland is pretty typical, as most men experience some enlargement of the prostate as they age. Statistically, about 50% of men experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate by age 60, and 90% of men report symptoms by age 85.

You might be wondering, "If it’s so common, what’s the big deal about having benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?"

To begin with, a healthy prostate is important in supporting sperm nourishment and transport. When a man ejaculates, the prostate produces the semen that propels the sperm. In a post-pubescent male, the prostate is about the size of a walnut and stays that way until age 40. For a still unknown reason, the prostate experiences a second growth spurt and can grow to the size of an apricot or even a lemon.

When you take into account that the prostate gland is located just below the bladder at the site where the urethra connects, you can start to see how this can become a serious issue. The enlarged prostate begins to interfere with the urethra, the tube inside the penis that carries urine and semen out of the body. The pressure can block the natural flow of urine (and semen) causing irritation. If left untreated, this condition can lead to more serious problems.

There is not a consensus among physicians on exactly why the prostate begins to grow again, though it is widely speculated that an excess of certain hormones may be the catalyst. One study has shown a high correlation between DHT levels (dihydrotestosterone) in the blood and enlarged prostates. Conversely, men with low DHT levels do not experience enlarged prostates.

The best way to combat this growth is to talk to your doctor. Click here to read about some of the potential exams, treatments, and solutions. 

Our 3 Best Tips For Supporting Your Husband’s Bladder Health Treatment

Help Your Husband With Incontinence By Being A Supportive Partner In His Treatment

At NAFC, we are advocates for rallying behind men and encouraging greater awareness of bladder, bowel, and prostate issues men often face. Men have the capacity to struggle with many of the same bladder and bowel health concerns as women but often struggle to be open, honest, and transparent about those difficulties.

Being a wife of a man with a bladder or bowel concern puts you in a unique position to be a listener and supporter throughout their treatment.

Our three tips for helping your husband resolve his bladder concern are as follows:  

  1. Be open and available to talk about his treatment when he is ready. So often, men take a silent sufferer approach to health because they think they have to do everything with courage and bravery. It might be helpful to your spouse if you can make it clear that your willingness to talk about their experience doesn’t negate their ability to face their health situation ‘like a man.’
  2. Offer to help refill his prescriptions or pick up absorbent products for him during your normal errands. It’s good for him to know how and where to get the medication and supplies he needs, but helping your husband by picking things up for him can be a real boost in the midst of this change.
  3. Check in and make sure he is following up with his Doctor as he was advised to. Details can be lost on a person when they’re given a diagnosis less than desirable. It’s not just your husband who forgot the advice and follow up procedures his doctor gave him-- it’s most people. Use this checklist to determine what follow up your husband needs to complete. 

Lastly, check our section on the website entirely devoted to male incontinence. You’ll be able to learn more about stress incontinence, enlarged prostates, and fecal incontinence, and about the various options that are available to men for treating this condition.

Over 10 Million Men Struggle With Bowel Leakage

Bowel Leakage Is Common In Men, Too.

While women make up the majority of individuals struggling with bladder concerns, there are millions of men dealing with accidental bowel leakage (ABL). The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) defines bowel control problems as "the inability to hold a bowel movement until reaching a bathroom.”

Bowel leakage can include symptoms like: trouble holding a bowel movement, having solid or liquid stool leak when least expected or finding streaks of stool in underwear.

While age is a contributing factor, ABL has been reported to affect both men and women as early as 40. As a growing concern among the Baby Boomer generation, more studies and research are being conducted to see what can be done to better manage and reduce or treat ABL.

The causes of bowel leakage can vary. Some folks experience ABL as a result of diarrhea, constipation, or damage to muscles or nerves. No matter the reason, many individuals are encouraged to normalize stool consistency with increased fiber intake and strengthen the sphincter muscles with pelvic floor exercises.

With practice and patience in finding the right solution, ABL can be managed effectively so individuals can move on.

Read our bowel retraining guide to learn more about a transitional treatment options. how to regulate your system.