After a prostate cancer surgery, it is a particularly common issue for men to have a weakened bladder, which causes urinary incontinence.
When a male patient finds himself constantly leaking small or larger amounts of urine unintentionally, especially during physical activities, it is considered as an incontinence problem.
Even when this issue may be uncomfortable to accept and comment to a partner or doctor, it is not something to be ashamed of. The sooner the patient starts finding a solution, the better. Managing, treating and even curing this after a prostate cancer surgery is possible.
On an overall perspective, bladder control comes back with time after six to twelve months of recovery. Patients still need to see a specialist during this time to get help at managing and improving incontinence; otherwise, it may cause many incommodities.
Controlling this problem by oneself is sometimes more frustrating than helpful. In fact, anxiety may only worsen the condition since the patient starts avoiding social interaction and outdoor activities in case a leakage happens.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence after Prostate Cancer Surgery
The bladder neck sphincter, which is a circular formation of muscles that opens and closes, is located at the same spot where both the bladder and urethra meet. The urethra is responsible for carrying urine and semen and it passes through the middle of the prostate.
It means the bladder neck sphincter must remain closed to avoid urine leakage during regular activities, and also wait for the brain’s instructions to release the liquid when peeing.
The second sphincter, located below the prostate gland, also known as the pelvic floor muscles, work as a second leakage control of urine. A prostate cancer surgery may affect the bladder neck sphincter, which causes a dependency to the pelvic floor muscles to control the urinary impulses.
If these muscles are not strong enough or are not working appropriately, a urinary incontinence problem then will happen during activities that push down the bladder by pressing on the abdomen.
Other natural actions may cause leakages, such as coughing, sneezing, shouting, laughing; motion activities like lifting, walking, bending, pushing, pulling, standing up, sitting down or lying down movements; as well as recreational activities, such as practicing sports, working out and gardening.
How to regain control of your bladder after prostate cancer surgery
Even when this postoperative consequence of prostate cancer surgery frequently disappears with time, the patient may learn to regulate and reinforce the pelvic floor muscles for a faster recovery and leakage diminishment.
Strengthening pelvic muscles and better control of your bladder is possible. Carrying out pelvic floor exercises is crucial for recovering management of your bowels, for which you may need a physiotherapist, continence nurse advisor or urology nurse to learn the proper methods.
The muscles involved in the control of your sphincters are correctly identifiable by doing certain things.
During the night, when the flow of urine is stronger, try to squeeze the muscles while you are peeing in order to stop the urine flow, so you can feel which are involved in the continence process. However, this is just a way to identify them, not to help them, so do not do it continuously.
Exercising the pelvic muscles
Whichever position you choose, whether it is standing with spread open legs, lying down or sitting, relax your tights, buttocks and stomach muscles. In front of a mirror, naked, attempt to constrict the previously identified pelvic floor muscles.
When doing this correctly, the base of the penis should draw in and the scrotum should rise up. Once you relax the muscles back, you should feel a relieving sensation. The basic movement consists of lifting and squeezing.
If you have mastered the pelvic muscles contraction, try to contract for longer periods before letting it go while breathing as usual, and then repeat up to ten times in a row. You can try this exercise three times a day during regular activities, such as while eating, combing your hair or drinking water.
To summarize, and most importantly, find help if you need it. Look for a physiotherapist’s assistance if you have a hard time identifying or contracting your pelvic muscles.