Bladder weakness, or urinary incontinence, is experienced by many men following prostate surgery (prostatectomy or TURP).
This is a common problem and often men find this the biggest challenge they have to cope with during the recovery process.
Most men regain their bladder control over time and are fully recovered within 6 to 12 months. However, it is important to get professional advice to help cope with bladder weakness during this time.
The prostate gland is a male reproductive organ. It is about the size of a walnut and sits at the base of the bladder. The thin tube (urethra) that carries urine and semen out of the penis runs through the centre of the prostate gland. At the point where the bladder and urethra join, there is a ring of muscles known as the bladder neck sphincter, which opens and closes like a camera-shutter.
The bladder neck sphincter is closed most of the time to prevent urine leaking out but when it gets permission from the brain, it opens to allow urine to be passed. Another (external) sphincter is part of another set of muscles below the prostate called the pelvic floor.
These muscles are also involved in bladder control. If the bladder neck sphincter is damaged during prostate cancer surgery, this can lead to urinary incontinence.
Symptoms of Incontinence
Urinary incontinence usually occurs when you undertake activities that increase the pressure inside the abdomen, and push down on the bladder. If the pelvic floor muscles (external sphincter) are not working well, urine will leak out.
This is known as 'stress incontinence'. Typical activities that can cause leakage are coughing, sneezing, shouting, laughing, lifting, walking, bending, pushing, pulling and moving from lying to sitting or sitting to standing positions.