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The prostate is a gland that only men have. It is about the size of a walnut and sits below the neck of the bladder. It wraps around the urethra (urine tube). The prostate makes a milky fluid, which is part of semen. This fluid feeds the sperm.
It is normal for the prostate gland to get bigger as men get older. For some men this can cause bladder problems. The changes to the prostate gland happen over many years.
Poor bladder control can also happen due to other health issues. Men with poor bladder control can be upset and embarrassed by it. Talk to your doctor or continence nurse advisor if you have changes in your bladder control. You should also talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your prostate gland.
Talk to your doctor if you have any pain or discomfort when you empty your bladder.
If you have one or more of the following symptoms, you may have a prostate problem:
Some of these problems may not be due to the prostate. Some medicines may also cause the bladder to store up urine. Your doctor or continence nurse advisor can help you find the cause of your problem.
Narrowing of the urethra (urine tube)
As the prostate grows larger, it may press on the urethra. This can stop the bladder from emptying. Urine may get stored up until it starts to leak out. If this happens, see a doctor straight away.
An overactive bladder and urgency
This can be caused if the bladder has to work extra hard to push the urine through a very narrow urethra. An enlarged prostate restricts the size of the urethra. An overactive bladder can tighten without your control. This can cause an urgent need to pass urine.
After surgery to ease the narrowing of the urethra you may still feel an urgent need to pass urine. Urgency could get worse until the bladder goes back to normal. This can take a few weeks. Surgery for prostate problems could damage the muscles and nerves of the urethra. This can cause poor bladder control. These problems are almost always short-lived. However, major surgery for prostate cancer can lead to long term bladder control problems.
Your doctor or continence nurse advisor will look to find the cause of your poor bladder control. The treatment for your problem will depend on its cause.
The health professional will check for such things as prostate disease, infection and diabetes. They will also want to know what medicines you are taking. Some medicines can cause bladder problems.
There are a few different ways poor bladder contro can be treated.
Make sure you know enough about:
With your doctor’s help you can choose the treatment that is best for you.
You are not alone. Poor bladder and bowel control can be cured or better managed with the right treatment. If you do nothing, it might get worse.
Phone expert advisors on the National Continence Helpline for free:
1800 33 00 66* (8am–8pm Monday to Friday AEST)
To arrange for an interpreter through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National), phone 13 14 50 Monday to Friday and ask for the National Continence Helpline. Information in other languages is also available from continence.org.au/other-languages
* Calls from mobiles are charged at applicable rates.