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Incontinence & causes for Men

    prostate cancer and bladder weakness

    Did you know that Prostate cancer is the 2nd most frequent cancer diagnosis made in men, as well as the 5th leading cause of death worldwide[1]? Some scientists estimate that half of all men will have or have had prostate cancer by 2124[2]. These facts are alarming and there is a strong need to talk and spread more awareness around the issue.

    So, what is the link between prostate cancer and bladder weakness? How do we prevent prostate cancer, and how do we treat it? Below you will find the answer to these questions, as well as tips for managing bladder weakness in men and resources for supporting men’s health.

    Prostate Cancer and Bladder Weakness

    Prostate cancer and bladder weakness go hand-in-hand. In fact, urge incontinence – or the frequent urge to go to the bathroom – is one of the first symptoms professionals identify when diagnosing prostate cancer[3].

    Prostate cancer causes bladder weakness in the following ways:

    1. Cancer presses on the bladder and strains the urethra and urinary muscles.
    2. Cancer spreads from the prostate to the bladder. Bladder cancer makes up only 5% of new cancer diagnoses, but those with prostate cancer have an increased risk[4].

    Having said that, bladder weakness does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. There are various other factors that contribute to bladder weakness (and it’s probably more common than you think).  Ageing,  obesity and side effects from medication can all have an impact. However, if you experience new or worsening issues around uncontrolled urine leaks, you should check with your doctor as soon as possible: early diagnosis leads to early treatment, as well as more positive outcomes[5].

    If you are over 50, you should also talk to your doctor about yearly PSA screenings, a powerful and simple diagnostic tool.

    Prostate Cancer Treatment and Bladder Weakness

    Two of the most common prostate cancer treatments are radiation therapy and prostatectomy, or the removal of the bladder. Both are known to cause mild to moderate bladder weakness, and here is why:

    In radiation therapy…

    • The bladder and urethra receive radiation.
    • Even though the bladder and urethra are relatively resistant to the effects of radiation therapy, they may become irritated during the radiation process[6]. This irritation may cause leakage.

    With prostatectomy…

    • The bladder gets pulled downward.
    • The muscles around the urethra become irritated or damaged.
    • Most patients experience leakage just after the process is finished. Men with damaged muscles around the urethra may have chronic mild leakage, amounting to one pad per day[7].

    But prostate cancer does not necessarily result in bladder weakness. In most people, the bladder and urinary muscles repair themselves in less than a year’s time.

    Resources for Bladder Weakness

    Bladder weakness can be a very traumatic experience. But, please note that there are thousands of men out there who have similar issues around bladder weakness.  Men suffering from bladder weakness can:

    • Talk to a healthcare professional to help determine their level of bladder weakness and their needs.
    • Use male incontinence pads or absorbent underwear to absorb leaks. “Quick fixes” like toilet paper irritate the urethra and may make leakage worse.
    • Live an active lifestyle. A healthy diet and low-impact activities prevent obesity, a condition that makes bladder weakness more severe. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor and have been shown to improve bladder weakness symptoms.
    • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps urine from concentrating in the bladder, as well as urges and leaks at-bay.

    Bladder weakness is not just a women’s problem. Along with our mission to make men’s health a year-round conversation, we feature a blog series and product range designed specifically for men.

    In order to raise awareness around men’s health and prostate cancer, follow our blog to join the dialogue about men’s health!


    [1] Rawla, P. “Epidemiology of Prostate Cancer.” World Journal of Oncology, Apr. 2019. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6497009/#targetText=In%202018%2C%201%2C276%2C106%20new%20cases,followed%20by%20Europe%20(62.1).

    [2] Pollock, P.A., Ludgate, A., & Wassersug, R.J. “In 2124, Half of All Men Can Count on Developing Prostate Cancer.” Current Oncology, Feb. 2015. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324338/

    [3] “Prostate Cancer: Symptoms and Signs.” American Society of Clinical Oncology, n.d. Source: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/symptoms-and-signs

    [4] “Cancer Stat Facts: Bladder Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, n.d. Source: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html

    [5] “Early Diagnosis.” World Health Organization, n.d. Source: https://www.who.int/cancer/publications/cancer_early_diagnosis/en/

    [6] “Urinary Dysfunction.” Prostate Cancer Foundation, n.d. Source: https://www.pcf.org/about-prostate-cancer/prostate-cancer-side-effects/urinary-dysfunction/

    [7] Ibid.

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