Yes, it does make people snigger and yes, it is sometimes difficult to talk about, but lots of men in their fifties realise that bladder problems are no laughing matter.
The funny thing is that it can be treated successfully in a majority of cases – if men can make the first steps towards discussing it with their doctor.
The problem is usually due to benign prostate hyperplasia (BHP), where an enlarged prostate places pressure on the bladder and the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder to the penis.
This can make it difficult to urinate or cause a sort of ‘stop start’ peeing. It can also mean men strain to pass urine or need to pee much more frequently than in their younger days. They need to go to the toilet more often during the night and this can lead to disturbed sleep patterns while leakage is also a problem when a toilet can’t be found quickly enough.
Vivek Wadhwa, a consultant urological surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, said: “Many men simply ignore the situation or ‘make-do’ by using the toilet at every chance they get, but there are solutions that could take away all the worry and embarrassment.
“Sometimes improvements can be achieved by physiotherapy, a change in fluid intake, medication and sometimes there is a need for surgery, but there really isn’t any reason to simply carry on as if nothing was wrong.”
Karen Sanders, a Specialist Physiotherapist at Spire Parkway said: “There are several types of urinary incontinence that can be helped by physiotherapy, pelvic floor exercises, for example, have been proven to help reduce stress urinary incontinence.”
However, for symptoms of bladder outflow obstruction, sometime surgery is the answer and Mr Wadhwa speaks highly of the Urolift System – a minimally invasive approach that lifts or holds the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way so it no longer blocks the urethra.
“There is no cutting, heating or removal of prostate tissue and the procedure can usually be carried out as a day case without the need for an overnight stay in hospital. Furthermore, there is no need or a catheter and patient are able to go home later that day. There is no detrimental effect on ejaculation or erectile function. It is a relatively new system that has shown some very impressive results,” explained Mr Wadhwa.
The Urolift System has recently been launched at Spire Bushey Hospital in Watford where consultant urological surgeon Mr Tim Briggs said: “Clinical data has shown that the UroLift System treatment is safe and effective in relieving lower urinary tract symptoms due to BPH without compromising sexual function – something that can happen with other types of surgery involving the prostate.”
Mr Briggs explained that tiny implants were placed to lift and hold the enlarged prostate tissue out of the way to relieve pressure on the urethra and allow urine to flow normally.
“In most cases there is no need for a catheter and patients can experience symptom relief as early as two weeks after leaving hospital. It is a very effective way of getting people back to their normal way of life.”