Pharmacist and Member, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (MPSI)
Even though as many as one in four men over 50 years old can experience urinary leakage, a need to destigmatise the topic helps men feel empowered to keep control of their bodies.
It’s not always easy for men to talk about involuntary urine leakage. Whether experiencing light drips and dribbles or heavier leaks, it can leave men feeling isolated and anxious, affecting their self-confidence.
Community pharmacist Mark Jordan believes that lifestyle changes can help reduce the impact and prevent urinary incontinence — defined as involuntary loss of urine — from becoming more serious.
As a pharmacist in a village in northwest Mayo, he says: “Urinary incontinence within the male population affects roughly half of the individuals I come into contact with aged 50 and over.”
A community pharmacy can be the first point of contact for men who require help and advice for urinary incontinence. The condition broadly falls into three main categories: momentary leakage; a moderate degree of incontinence; or complete loss of control where medication or referral to a urologist is necessary.
Momentary leakage could be where the loss of control is due to strenuous activity, laughing, ingesting something that encourages leakage — like a caffeinated drink — or increased bladder fill.
“It can move to a moderate degree of urinary incontinence where there is less control and possibly more urgency and frequency involved,” says Jordan, who is active with the regulatory body Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.
A community pharmacy can be the first point of contact for men who require help and advice for urinary incontinence.
“We are looking at abstinence from caffeinated drinks and trying to increase overall wellness, so men have better control of their bladder. Anybody experiencing symptoms of incontinence or a change in bladder control should seek advice from a medical professional,” he adds.
The community pharmacist may also advise products that help with urinary incontinence.
Breaking the stigma
Stressing the importance of breaking the stigma, he acknowledges that urinary incontinence is openly discussed in reference to women’s health. But for men, it is not something they are comfortable discussing.
“When I talk to men about this, I point out how common urinary incontinence is and how products like discreet male protective pads and underwear can help. It is heartening to know how they offer good control for many men. Incontinence can often be treated, and products like TENA MEN can help you manage,” he adds. “By educating people who experience urinary incontinence, we can remove the stigma and assist in treating what is a common problem. It gives people the tools to avoid suffering in silence.”