Treating Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Surgery – University of Utah Health Care

Nov 19, 2021 10:30 AM
Up to 10 percent of men will experience some degree of urinary incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine) after prostate cancer surgery, says Benjamin McCormick, a University of Utah Health surgeon specializing in reconstructive urology. “It occurs because part of the continence mechanism may have to be removed to treat the prostate cancer.” McCormick says it can leave the patient with something called stress incontinence.
“Under the umbrella of incontinence, there are three main types,” says McCormick.
“There is no bladder control medication to treat stress incontinence,” says McCormick. “But there are medications for urge incontinence, so if there’s a component of urgency, you can try those medications first.”  Otherwise, McCormick notes, there are two main surgical treatments available to men for stress incontinence treatment:
McCormick says both urinary incontinence surgery methods are outpatient or same-day procedures. They differ in that the sling provides immediate improvement in incontinence, while artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) surgery can treat more severe incontinence, but is activated after healing occurs. “There’s an activation button on the pump placed in the scrotum that we gently press at about six weeks.”
Each bladder leakage surgery methods can make a significant difference. “They are both highly successful in reducing the amount of incontinence. Up to 85-90% effective in curing or greatly improving incontinence.”
“The sling procedure would be for someone with mild incontinence, maybe using one to three pads per day to deal with leakage,” says McCormick. “More than that, and you’d start to think about using an AUS, which is best for moderate to severe incontinence.”
McCormick says the procedures can really make an impact. “Going from soaking maybe five to ten pads a day to only using one pad and getting back out there to play golf again or do whatever you enjoy – there can be such a huge quality of life improvement for patients.”
Regardless of method, McCormick says urinary incontinence treatment for elderly patients is the same as for those who are middle-aged.
So, what’s available to men OTC for bladder control?
“For incontinence care at home, there’s a device called a Cunningham Clamp that can be used very temporarily,” says McCormick. “It’s just a soft clip that stays on the penis and can help hold back urine.” The user decides when to remove it, to relieve themselves.
The bladder is supported by pelvic floor muscles, so in some patients stress incontinence can be improved by simple light pelvic exercises to restore flexibility and muscle strength. McCormick says It’s also helpful to drink enough water and avoid caffeine and alcohol.
incontinence prostate prostate cancer men’s health
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