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Home » Men's Healthcare » How incontinence treatment options can improve lives of patients at any age

Chris Harding

Consultant Urological Surgeon, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,
and Professor of Urology, Newcastle University

Various treatments are available for urinary incontinence. If you have symptoms, don’t put off seeing your GP because treatment could make a big difference to your quality of life.

According to NHS England, approximately 14 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence — a condition linked with a reduced quality of life and mental health issues.

Avoid putting off incontinence treatment

There are certain misconceptions about incontinence. For instance, there’s a mistaken belief that it’s an inevitable part of ageing. Plus, some think it’s untreatable. So, they just learn to live with it; but that’s not right, insists Chris Harding, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Urology at Newcastle University.

“Anyone experiencing regular urinary leakage needs to know it’s not normal, no matter how old they are,” he says. “They must also understand that good, effective treatments are available — and largely very successful, so people should never suffer in silence.”

The problem is that men, in particular, may be so embarrassed by symptoms that they put off seeing their GP. “I understand that, because incontinence is thought of as a ‘taboo’ subject,” says Professor Harding. “We have to break that taboo because some people will leave it five, 10 or 20 years before seeking help. In many cases, a simple treatment can be offered that will drastically improve their quality of life.”

DON’T put up with incontinence.
See your GP.”

Simple interventions can make a significant difference

There are different reasons why symptoms appear. “If the bladder is overactive, the bladder muscle contracts when you don’t want it to, resulting in the expulsion of urine,” explains Professor Harding. “Incontinence can also occur if there is weakness in the sphincter muscle and pelvic floor.”

Simple interventions can make a difference. For instance, patients experiencing incontinence at night (particularly those with an overactive bladder) are advised to reduce caffeine and evening fluid intake. In other cases, pelvic floor exercises may prove beneficial.

Shared decision-making and seeking help

Medications are available, too, and — in severe instances — surgical procedures are an option. “I’m an advocate for shared decision-making,” says Professor Harding. “Health practitioners should explain the range of treatments available and work with the patient to decide which one will be the best fit.”

Certainly, we need more open conversations about incontinence. “That’s why we support initiatives such as World Continence Week,” says Professor Harding. “We want patients to know that medical practitioners have clear treatment guidelines for incontinence and that there is exciting research in this field. This will further improve treatment options and lead to better patient care, but we can only help people if we know they have a problem in the first place. So, DON’T put up with incontinence. See your GP.”

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