Men often tolerate stress urinary incontinence (SUI) for more than two years before seeking medical help and one-third put up with it for more than five years, a new study suggests.
SUI occurs when physical activity or exertion — a cough, heavy lifting, exercise — causes the bladder to leak urine.
The study, published in the journal Urology, found the median length of time the men had waited to seek treatment for their SUI was 32 months, with almost a third having waited more than five years.
They also found that patients in their 80s had waited a median of more than seven years.
“Male SUI is rare but is known to have significant negative psychosocial and emotional effects and represents a common reason for post-treatment anxiety and depression,” said co-author Allen Morey, Professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.
But there are simple and safe solutions — including minor surgeries — that can either help boost a weakened sphincter muscle for patients with minimal leakage (the sling procedure), or replace the sphincter muscle altogether (installation of an artificial urinary sphincter) for more severe cases of leakage, the researcher said.
“Using new diagnostic techniques, we are now able to accurately diagnose and streamline treatment recommendations to resolve this bothersome problem for our patients,” Morey mentioned.
For the study, the researchers reviewed the cases of 572 men evaluated for anti-incontinence surgery between 2007 and 2017.
The study calls on men’s general practitioners and urologists to perform a standing cough test, in which a patient coughs while the doctor watches for any accidental urine release, as a routine part of their male patients’ physicals.
“Our goal is to spread the word that effective and safe treatments exist for men with stress urinary incontinence, but also to facilitate an immediate and accurate diagnosis among stress urinary incontinence patients,” said first author Joceline Fuchs from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre.