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If you have accidentally leaked urine when sneezing, coughing, or changing positions, you are not alone. Urinary incontinence (UI), or the inability to control urination, can affect both women and men during and after cancer treatment.
UI can range anywhere from leaking a little urine to a total lack of urination control. The condition may be temporary or permanent, depending on the type of treatment you received and the extent of the damage.
Sometimes, cancer and its treatment can affect bladder function by changing the nerves and muscles used to control urine flow. For example, some treatments for pelvic or gynecologic cancers may result in UI.
A prostatectomy (removal of the prostate), for instance, can damage the valves of the bladder and disrupt the way it holds urine. Also, certain medications, such as some blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can cause UI.
The following are some potential symptoms of UI:
Some types of urinary incontinence include:
Treatment for UI depends on the type, severity, and cause of the problem, and may include a combination of approaches. Fortunately, there are new techniques in cancer treatment that can help lessen damage to the bladder valves. However, if it does occur, there are ways to manage the challenges of UI.
Your doctor may also recommend biofeedback methods or behavioral techniques, like bladder retraining and pelvic floor exercises. Some medications may help to reduce bladder muscle contractions and block the nerve signals that cause urination urgency and frequency. Also, surgical techniques may be used to treat some severe cases of UI.
Additionally, there are products available, such as absorbent pads, to help hide any leakage that occurs so you can remain active and comfortable. Also, diet and lifestyle changes may help to lesson the impact of UI.
UI can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Embarrassment, fear, and anxiety about urine leakage may keep you from doing things you love, like dining out and other activities. This may cause you to miss out on valuable time with friends and family.
Fortunately, even if the incontinence cannot be completely corrected, you can learn how to manage it so you can continue to participate in activities you enjoy.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING URINARY INCONTINENCE DURING AND AFTER CANCER TREATMENT.
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