Urinary incontinence is the loss of the ability to control urination. This medical condition may arise due to various reasons. However, two of the major types include, stress-induced urinary incontinence as well as radiation therapy or post-surgery for prostate cancer. In this article, we will discuss about the urinary incontinence that results after prostate cancer treatment and ways to tackle it. This is a common condition in men who have undergone radiation therapy or surgery for prostate cancer.
Unfortunately urinary incontinence is certainly not just another medical problem. It has major impacts on the psychological, emotional and social life of the affected individuals. Hence, most of the people who suffer from urinary incontinence are scared to carry out routine activities. Urinary incontinence can also hold back people from enjoying their life. For instance, some would want to be within the close proximity of a toilet, even when they are out. However, smartness lies in understanding that urinary incontinence might complicate your life for at least for a while, although not permanently and stay prepared.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence generally occurs in different forms and in varying degrees of severity. It is different for different people. While some men experience total leakage, some might just dribble urine. Another type of stress incontinence that men witness after prostate surgery is urine loss with a sneeze, laugh or even cough. Besides, episodes of leakage or an urge for frequent urination are experienced by men after undergoing radiation treatment. However, there has been continuous medical efforts to minimize post-radiation and post-surgery incontinence.
How are Prostate Cancer Treatments Responsible for Urinary Incontinence?
Let us now examine the science behind the connection between prostate cancer treatments and urinary incontinence. For this, we need to understand how our bladder holds the urine. The kidneys empty the urine into the bladder, which is a muscular, hollow, balloon-shaped organ. Bladder stores it until you develop an urge to urinate. Then, the urine gets excreted through a tube known as urethra. Urination involves the contraction of the muscles in your bladder walls, which force the urine out of your bladder. The muscles surrounding urethra will then relax, thereby facilitating the urine to flow out. Prostate gland is an organ that surrounds urethra. Enlarged prostate glands tend to obstruct urethra causing urination retention and various other complications associated with urination. Prostate destruction though radiation or removal through surgery can lead to urine leakage. This is because, prostate removal will disrupt the actual way in which your bladder holds the urine. Radiation decreases the bladder capacity, thereby causing spasms that force urine out. On the other hand, surgery damages nerves that control bladder function.
Medical Developments to Reduce the Chances of Incontinence
The area surrounding the bladder as well as the sphincter muscles around urethra are saved as much as possible in order to minimize the damage that can be caused to sphincter
In case of radiation therapy, the process of radioactive seed implantation is improvised with the help of sophisticated computer projections, which destroy prostate without damaging the bladder
Nevertheless, prostate cancer is still associated with urinary complications due to lack of bladder control. However, in most cases bladder control can be regained with time, thereby making urinary incontinence a temporary condition.
Exercises and Tips to Tackle Urinary Incontinence
There are numerous tips and exercises to tackle urinary incontinence. Here are some of the most helpful tips:
Supportive Measures – These mainly involve behavioral modifications, such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods as well as drinking less liquids before bedtime. Frequent urination is also encouraged, instead of waiting for longer intervals. In many cases, shedding some extra kilos will also improve urinary control. Finally, some of the medications that tend to affect incontinence are also prescribed.
Exercising the Pelvic Floor – Kegel exercises are a form of pelvic floor exercises that train men to hold themselves from uncontrolled urination. These exercises strengthen those muscles, which help you in stopping urination mid-stream. Such exercises can also be combined with some biofeedback programs. This helps you in training your muscles even better.
Suppository Medication – There are different types of medicines to decrease frequent urination by increasing the bladder capacity. Furthermore, newer medications are on their way, which are aimed to tackle other forms of incontinence.
Bulbourethral Sling – Here, a sling is used to compress and suspend the urethra. Made from patient's own tissue or synthetic material, it creates urethral compression for superior bladder control.
Artificial Sphincter - This is a patient-controlled device having three parts: a cuff, a balloon to regulate pressure and a pump. The cuff encircles urethra and prevents urine leakage. This method hugely improves (almost 70% to 80%) the bladder control and in some cases even cures the patients.
Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation – Aimed to strengthen and retrain weaker urinary muscles, this treatment enhances bladder control. Here, a probe is introduced into the anus. A current is then passed through this probe to cause a contraction. However, the current level is below the actual pain threshold. When the current is on, the patient will be instructed to squeeze or contract the muscles. The current is apparently switched off after contraction.
Besides, some surgeons also recommend placing a few rubber rings around the bladder tips to hold urine. However, this approach is highly specific and is solely dependent on your individual condition.
Useful Products to Handle Incontinence
Although there are several measures to tackle incontinence, these may not be applicable for everyone. Therefore, opting for some of the products to help you handle your condition can be a wise decision. Some of the most useful products include:
With such a wide array of incontinence products available today, you can now choose the one that precisely caters to your needs. Furthermore, using disposable products will spare you from the unpleasant task of washing the used incontinence supplies. In case of severe incontinence, disposable pads and pants can be a better choice for added comfort.
At times you can also wear washable pants with disposable incontinence pads. This provides added absorbency and protection. Therefore, you get extra peace of mind, particularly in case of untimely leakages.
Furthermore, choosing the right incontinence products is highly subjective. Depending on the magnitude and severance of the condition, one can either choose disposable, non-disposable or a combination of both. Another factor to be considered is environmental impact. Although washable products contribute less to environmental buildup of waste, they still need water to be washed.
A wide array of water-proof bedding and incontinence aids are available to tackle incontinence and have a better night’s sleep. These ensure that you remain comfortable and dry all through the night. Therefore, you do not have to wake up due to unanticipated urination at night.
Although there are several ways to tackle prostate cancer treatment induced urinary incontinence, the best way to handle it is to comprehend the condition and confidently face it. This makes you feel comfortable and continue to enjoy your life.
Several significant efforts have been made by surgeons to reduce the instances of post-surgery incontinence, which include:
- Incontinence Briefs – These comfortable absorbent briefs are highly reliable. Suitable for longer hours, these are ergonomically designed and also feature anti-bacterial properties
Incontinence Pull-ups – Aimed to provide incontinence solution for at least a night or a day, these active pants are lightweight, have cloth-like covers, leg guards, super absorbent inner and a permeable outer sheet to keep you dry
Incontinence Booster Pads – As the name suggests, these incontinence pads are designed for higher capacity and superior comfort
Incontinence Wipes – These pH-balanced, alcohol free, low-lint, fragrance free and hypoallergenic wipes keep you clean and fresh
Incontinence Bed Pads – The low-lint bed pads come with waterproof polyethylene backing and are highly absorbent