Approximately 13% of men across Australia are affected by urinary incontinence.1 When a man lives with the burden of incontinence, his family and friends experience it with him – whether disposing of pads or dealing with his feelings of depression and social isolation.2
Understanding how incontinence affects his life will help you provide the support he needs.
The Emotional Side of Incontinence: Impacts All Aspects of Life
Urinary incontinence or bladder leakage is a very difficult thing for any man to deal with. He is constantly distracted as he thinks about his next potential accident. As the caretaker, you’re often the first one to observe how incontinence negatively affects his life. If you are a partner, your shared intimacy may suffer. You may wish you could fix his bladder leakage so his normalcy could be restored. The key is to show him that you support him regardless of his struggles with incontinence. Fortunately, he does have options and with you as his advocate, you can conquer bladder leakage together.
Managing urinary incontinence at work can create additional stress and disrupt productivity. Incontinence may cause him to make frequent bathroom visits and in turn, disrupt essential job activities. Trying to be discrete through multiple pad changes can also be challenging. He may fear that he smells like urine or that his co-workers have noticed his frequent bathroom trips. The good news is that he can regain a normal work routine and renew confidence by seeing a urologist specialising in the treatment of male incontinence.
Downtime with incontinence is not necessarily a break. With incontinence, he may feel embarrassed, isolate himself or limit his social life, especially exercise and leisure activities. He may give up some of his favorite pastimes due to fear of an accident. In your quest to spend time together, your activity level may also be impacted. If he ultimately pulls back and isolates himself, it may be time to explore treatment options. Once you seek treatment, the two of you will likely be able to manage his incontinence and improve his overall well-being.
Here is a simple guide of things you can do to support a man suffering from incontinence:
- Remember urinary incontinence is a problem that can impact not only the man suffering but also his closest family and friends
- Talk opening with your partner about his urinary incontinence
- Accompany your partner to his medical appointments
- Educate yourself on urinary incontinence and all the treatment options available
The Incontinence Conversation: Supporting Each Other in the Journey
Talking to your Partner who is suffering
Urinary incontinence or bladder leakage can affect both men and their partners, resulting in a range of negative emotions.
The first step in finding a solution together is talking openly with your partners suffering from incontinence. As a partner it is important to show support, get informed and carefully choose your moment to have the conversation. Let him know he is not alone, you are in it together.
Beginning to talk about incontinence and treatment options may lead to conversations about other health related issues and may include discussion around other lifestyle choices.
Ways to start the conversation
Here are a few approaches to start the uncomfortable conversation:
“I love you and I am here to help with your incontinence. Do you want to talk about it?”
“I know your incontinence may be hard to talk about, but we need to address it. There are treatment options available and I want to help.”
“Lots of men and couples face incontinence. I am here for you. We could talk to the doctor together. What do you want to do?”
There is hope!
Every man should be able to hear these words…
“There are options for us.”
We don’t have to live like this.”
- Continence Foundation of Australia Key Statistics https://www.continence.org.au/pages/key-statistics.html Accessed 18 February 2019
- Markland AD, Goode PS, Redden DT, et al. Prevalence of urinary incontinence in men: results from the national health and nutrition examination survey. J Urol. 2010 Sep;184(3):1022-7.
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