Bladder incontinence medications

Urinary control is the goal

Your loved one’s doctor may prescribe one of several bladder incontinence medications, if urinary control doesn’t return as quickly as hoped following treatment for prostate cancer.

This can be discouraging for men, but hopefully things will get better over time.  It's important to try to remain patient and discuss any concerns with the doctor. 

Types of bladder incontinence medications

The drugs that are used for “male incontinence” following treatment for prostate cancer are usually the same drugs that are prescribed to treat a very common condition called overactive bladder. 

You may already be familiar with some of the brand names of these drugs as they are often advertised on television, including:

  • Detrol
  • Ditropan
  • Enablex
  • Oxytrol
  • Gelnique
  • Sanctura
  • Toviaz
  • VESIcare

While these drugs may contain different ingredients, they are typically prescribed to help reduce the frequent or urgent need to urinate.

Sometimes the antidepressant Tofranil may be prescribed for moderate stress incontinence.

If medication doesn't work

Like medications for erection problems, if one medication doesn’t work well, your loved one can ask his doctor to try another.

The most common side effects from these medications are dry mouth and constipation.

If these medications do not work as hoped there are many other types of treatments that may help, including:

Behavioral techniques

Bladder incontinence medications may be prescribed in addition to behavior modification techniques, which may include:

  • Drinking fewer fluids
  • Staying away from fluids that contain caffeine, like coffee and tea, because they can increase the need to urinate
  • Staying away from foods that contain caffeine, like chocolate and ice cream

The doctor may also recommend Kegel exercises to help strengthen the bladder muscles. It's important to do them as often as prescribed.  But don't overdo them.  Doing too many Kegel exercises can actually weaken the bladder muscles, which can contribute to incontinence. 

A man may also be advised to do something called “double voiding.” When he is finished urinating he remains at the toilet and urinates again, after about a minute, to completely empty his bladder.

Back to coping with incontinence

References:
Atiemo HO, Moy L, Vasavada S, Rackley R. Evaluating and managing urinary incontinence after prostatectomy: beyond pads and diapers. Cleveland Clinical Journal of Medicine. 2007;74 (1):57-63.

Grise P, Thurman S. Urinary incontinence following treatment of localized prostate cancer. Cancer Control. 2001; 8(6):532-539.

Leach GE. Incontinence treatment options for post-prostatectomy. Prostate Cancer Research Institute. http://www.prostate- cancer.org/education/sidefx/Leach_Incontinence.html. Accessed January 6, 2009.

Always consult a medical professional.

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