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Men Have Problems With Incontinence And Bladder Control Too


Male Urinary Symptoms and Bladder Control

Though the anatomic structures of the male and female lower urinary tract differ greatly, men and women may actually experience many of the same symptoms of urinary tract dysfunction.

These urinary tract symptoms commonly include:

  • frequency (needing to urinate more often than once every 2 hours)
  • urgency (strong signal to urinate which cannot be postponed)
  • hesitancy (difficulty initiating urinary flow despite sensation of urgency)
  • straining (abdominal maneuvers required to forcefully expel urine)
  • intermittent stream (urine stream stops and starts once flow has begun)
  • nocturia (urgency to urinate which arouses one from sleep)
  • urge incontinence (the strong signal to urinate cannot be suppressed and results in urine leakage before one can get to the toilet)
  • retention (inability to start urination despite the increasingly uncomfortable sensation that the bladder is at maximum capacity)
  • dysuria (burning sensation in the urethra during urination)

The underlying causes of the above symptoms can vary widely. If a male friend or relative is experiencing difficulties with any of the above mentioned symptoms, he should consider talking to his family doctor about whether to seek further evaluation.

Commonly for men, the symptoms are often linked to the condition of the prostate gland known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. The prostate is a uniquely male organ in the male urinary tract. It sits below the bladder much like a washer around a drainpipe. All the urine flow from the bladder must pass through the hollow center of the prostate.

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Prostate Cancer

Patients often ask whether urinary symptoms could signal a more serious underlying problem such as prostate cancer. This is not the typical clinical situation. However, men aged 50 years and older should undergo annual prostate screening exams for this disease. Typically early stage prostate cancer can only be detected by a screening blood test known as PSA (prostate specific antigen).

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Male Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is much more commonly encountered in women. Nevertheless, men can also be at risk for stress urinary incontinence if they have undergone previous urinary surgeries, urinary trauma, etc.

Certain neurologic diseases, pelvic surgeries, and chronic medical condition may lead to urinary tract symptoms years later. If symptoms are steadily worsening, men should consider seeking medical consultation with a urologist. A urologist is a surgeon who specializes in male reproductive function and urinary tract functions of both men and women. If the clinical picture proves to be more complex, the urologist may refer to a subspecialist in the area of neurourology. In this case, the specialist has particular diagnostic tools to better understand the problem with urinary tract function.

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Where Can I Get Help?

Appointments with the UCSF Urology Practice can be made by calling (415) 353-2200.

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Questions or comments about this Web site may be sent to
[email protected]. Last updated: 09/21/2009

The University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, (415) 476-9000 Copyright © 2009, The Regents of the University of California.