Pres Rx: Bladder Control

Symptoms of incontinence are similar for men and women, but treatments are not. In fact, the wrong treatment can worsen symptoms.

This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell discusses different causes for the same distressing symptoms.

Although bladder control problems occur in women and men, the anatomical cause usually differs. But almost always though, weakened muscles or an aging prostate are to blame.

Many women develop incontinence when muscles that support the bladder weaken. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises may improve the situation. Medications that relax the bladder may relieve the pressure a bit as well. Surgery to "shore up" the sagging muscles also help others.


As men age, the prostate enlarges and presses on the bladder, "squeezing" the urethra and inhibiting the passage of urine. In these fellows, it's common to retain urine in the bladder even after urination. The residual urine can increase and stretch the bladder, and then pressure backs up to the kidneys, eventually causing damage.

Sometimes, urinary incontinence may indicate a larger health problem. See your doctor for a proper medical history and a physical exam.