Approximately six to eight percent of men develop urinary incontinence after prostate surgery. Radical prostatectomy, or the complete surgical removal of the prostate, also removes the internal valves that hold urine inside the body, often causing leakage. Urinary incontinence can complicate life for men, resulting in problems ranging from small dribbling to total leakage. Fortunately, men can find relief from urinary incontinence after prostate cancer surgery by undergoing a number of surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence after Prostate Surgery
Non-Surgical Urinary Incontinence Treatment Options: Conservative treatment options can be effective for mild to moderate urinary incontinence. The most common non-surgical treatment options range from behavioral techniques and exercises to medications and biofeedback. Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, helping men better hold urine. Men can mix and match catheters and penile compression devices during the day and opt for a more comfortable pad at night. Consider just a few of the top incontinence aids on the market now:
- Odor control underpads. Reusable underpads are designed with a special coating that grabs chlorine bleach in every wash. Underpads with this type of antimicrobial protection kill 99.9% of odor-causing germs and bacteria, eliminating the odor, embarrassment and hassle of urinary incontinence.
- Reusable panties and briefs. The most innovative products on the market now feature the comfort of a reusable brief; the absorbency of a disposable; and the same look, feel, and care needed for regular underwear.
- Pull-on cover-up nylon briefs. Made of soft, white plastic-coated nylon and a breathable cotton panel, pull-on briefs are the perfect waterproof cover-up for disposable pads, diapers and liners, or any absorbent medium.
- Disposable pads and liners. Discreet and comfortable, disposables are a convenient and budget-friendly option for men dealing with urinary incontinence during post-prostatectomy recovery.
Surgical Urinary Incontinence Treatment Options: Surgery may be the more viable treatment option for severe urinary incontinence. Surgery is typically only an option for men dealing with urinary incontinence for at least one year post prostatectomy. There are two main types of surgical procedures – the urethral sling and the artificial urinary sphincter.
- The Urethral Sling: For this highly successful, minimally invasive procedure, a small incision is made between the scrotum and anus. A synthetic (man-made) mesh tape is then placed around part of the urethra, proving support and preventing leakage. Since the majority of men develop only minimal incontinence post prostatectomy, the urethral sling is often the more practical option than the more invasive alternative – the artificial urinary sphincter.
- The Artificial Urinary Sphincter: Successful in 90% of post prostatectomy urinary incontinence cases, this major surgical procedure is ideal for men dealing with moderate to severe urinary incontinence caused by significant damage to the sphincter muscles or valves. During the artificial urinary sphincter procedure, an inflatable cuff is implanted around the upper urethra and a pump is inserted into the scrotum. Upon the urge to urinate, the user presses on the pump, opening the cuff to allow urination. The cuff closes automatically after urination.
Whether you experience mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence after prostate cancer surgery, understanding the available surgical and non-surgical treatment options is the first step to finding relief and regaining confidence in your lifestyle.