Many men will experience bladder leakage after prostate surgery. Simple tasks and movements, such as riding a bike, sneezing, and getting up from a seated position, can all result in you wetting yourself. This loss of bladder control can last a few weeks or months, and can cause men to feel embarrassed and withdraw from social activities. Fortunately, with these incontinence management skills and behavioral therapy, you can remain active and stay in control of your life:
- Wear a male guard. Although you may be weary of wearing an incontinence product, keep in mind that (most times) it’s only temporary and it’ll help keep your clothes dry. Incontinence pads for men, or male guards, are very discreet and thin – no one will even know that you’re wearing one. They’re shaped to fit your body and move with you as you move, so you can go about your day without worry. For those who experience more than just urine dribbling, disposable underwear provides more absorbency, yet allows you to maintain your dignity.
- Exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from kegels. You can do kegels prior to surgery and then daily after surgery. Be careful not to overdo them though! Ask your doctor or a physical therapist for help on how to properly complete the exercises.
- Practice bladder retraining. After prostate surgery, you might feel sudden urges to go. This type of incontinence is called urge incontinence. To suppress these urges, try training your bladder to go on a schedule. For example, use the bathroom every hour, and then every hour and 15 minutes. Keep adding 15-minute increments until you can go about four hours without using the bathroom.
- Keep a bedside urinal. Sometimes your urges may be too great, and you won’t be able to make it to the bathroom in time. A male urinal can help prevent accidents should you get the urge in the middle of the night.
- Protect your bed with an underpad. It’s best to invest in some waterproof bedding for when accidents DO happen. This waterproof underpad is washable, making it an economical solution to mattress protection.
- Watch your diet. There are certain foods and drinks that can cause your bladder to spasm. These bladder irritants include: alcohol, tea, citrus foods, spicy foods, and soda. To determine which type of food or drink your bladder can tolerate, eliminate one out of your diet and reintroduce it back days later. See if there are any differences in bladder control.
Keep in mind that, in most cases, post-prostate surgery incontinence is temporary. It is important to not allow this condition to hinder your ability and desire to lead a full life. Be patient and proactive in your incontinence treatments. If you start to feel discouraged, try seeking advice from others who are also experiencing leakage problems after surgery. There are plenty of online forums where you can find support and advice from someone who understands what you are going through.