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Mens Health Q4 2021

A proactive approach to male continence

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Pornpak Khunatorn

Karen Irwin

Specialist Nurse and Service Manager, Bladder & Bowel UK

Bladder and bowel problems affect people of all ages, with profound consequences on quality of life. It is estimated that 14 million men, women, young people and children are living with bladder problems.


It is great to see female continence discussed with increasing sensitivity and openness. But it is similarly important that we recognise the significance of male continence issues. There is less guidance and research around men’s bladder and bowel health , than women’s, but yet a high percentage of men experience urological problems. Male incontinence is often age-related, with one in three older men reported to experience bladder problems. 

Seeking help from a healthcare professional

The urinary system is vital to health and wellbeing. Problems cause significant disruption and disturbance and sometimes indicate more serious underlying issues. Many continence difficulties can be managed or treated. Therefore, it is important to seek help. A GP is a good first contact. Doctors and nurses will be able to discuss symptoms sensitively and suggest a range of options.

Urinary frequency is common and includes needing to pass urine at night. This can be extremely disruptive for the individual and their household. It is not inevitable with aging and can be treated.

Emotional impact of incontinence 

Urinary incontinence, or involuntary leakage, can involve a few drops to a full bladder. This can occur due to not managing to reach the toilet quickly enough or being taken unawares. Incontinence products can be helpful, but may result in loss of self-esteem, depression and loss of independence. Incontinence can affect relationships and employment prospects, but there are positive steps that can be taken to avoid or treat it.

The urinary system is vital to health and wellbeing. Problems cause significant disruption and disturbance and sometimes indicate more serious underlying issues.

A slow urinary flow can be frustrating. This issue is most common in men over 50 but can occur in anyone. It may be related to enlargement of the prostate gland or narrowing of the urethra. These can slow urinary flow and lead to poor or incomplete bladder emptying. 

More serious issues include pain or passing blood with urine. Neither of these are normal. While in many cases there may be nothing to worry about, you should always contact your GP straight away.

Don’t suffer in silence 

It is important to emphasise that you do not need to try and manage alone. There is treatment and support for many of these issues. A proactive approach may reduce the daily burden of bladder problems. At Bladder & Bowel UK, we encourage people to seek help , and offer advice and guidance on how to take steps to get life back on track.

Bladder & Bowel UK offer support for bladder and bowel health for everyone. They offer confidential advice from specialist nurses and product experts, and information on preventing and dealing with bladder and bowel issues can be found online at bbuk.org.uk

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