How common is it?
Society has a misconception that continence issues only affect young children, middle-aged women and the elderly, so the idea that a young male could have leakage seems highly improbable. However, it does happen, and this is just one of many myths surrounding male incontinence
Research suggests 6% of women between 15 to 44 experience continence issues. We also know that women are about twice as likely to experience incontinence that males, so could estimate that the prevalence is around 3% for males in this age group. But feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed by the condition also has a significant impact on reported numbers so, in truth, we don’t know how many young men and boys are affected.
Why does it happen?
It’s important to understand that incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine or faeces) is a symptom of an underlying issue – not a condition in itself.
Causes are varied but may include:
- Pelvic Injury or surgery that has damaged the nerves and muscles that control the bladder and bowel
Neurological conditions that interfere with messages between the brain and the bladder and bowel
- Physical conditions that affect mobility, making it difficult to get to the toilet in time
- An infection or obstruction
- A side effect of certain types of medication
What you can do
If you’re a young man experiencing involuntary bladder or bowel leakage, see your doctor and find out what’s causing it. Here’s an article on talking to the doctor about incontinence. Once that’s been determined, you’ll know if it can be treated and resolved. If that’s not the case, ask for a referral to a continence nurse who will develop a management plan, enabling you to get on with life as normal.
You might be interested to know that in 2004, an American survey by the National Association for Continence reported that among people who were experiencing bladder leakage, women waited 6.5 years, and men 4.2 years, before consulting with their doctor. How crazy is that! If you have any symptom, make an appointment with your doctor straight away.
On this link, you’ll find a list of healthy bladder habits to adopt and on this one, various food and drinks which may be irritating your bladder and making the condition worse – so you know what to avoid.
The emotional impact
You might find the case study on this website article insightful. It tells the story of a young man in his 20s who’d kept his incontinence issue a secret since he was 15, resulting in extreme stress and a lack of support. It’s then responded to by two healthcare professionals.
The same article quotes research conducted by the University of Bristol on continence problems in young people aged 11-20 years, which showed that embarrassment, fear of bullying and stigmatisation, and lack of understanding meant that some went to great lengths to conceal bladder and bowel issues, thereby risking:
- Serious distress;
- Social isolation;
- Underlying conditions going untreated
Don’t underestimate the impact of incontinence. For young people in particular, it may affect body image, self-esteem and mental health. Be kind to yourself and know it’s not your ‘fault’. Rather than dwell on the negatives, seek help and take charge of the issue, finding a way to resolve or manage it in a way that allows you to get on with life.
Managing incontinence may be easier than you imagine. TENA have a range of products, specifically designed for males. From small, anatomically designed Shields and Guards and Pants that look and feel like regular underwear.
If you’re unused to protective products, the initial thought can be daunting, but you’ll be surprised how discreet and comfortable they are. You can read more about how they work and tips on using them on this link. (link to Male Pads article – yet to be published) discreetly.
If you’re not sure which product is right for you, head over to the TENA Product Finder which will step you through your condition and suggest product choices. You can then request a FREE sample which will be posted out to you in discreet, unbranded packaging.
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.