What is the cause of urinary problems in males?
Urinary problems are a common occurrence in men of any age, with frequent urination and urination at night perhaps being the most problematic. Most people will be able to sleep 7-9 hours and only have to go to the toilet occasionally during that time, or not at all. If you have to get out of bed to use the loo more than once a night, and this happens most nights of the week, this may be classed as nocturia.
1 in 4 men in the UK over the age of 40 also experience urine leakage. This particular problem is known as stress incontinence as certain movements such as laughing, lifting weights, coughing and sneezing put pressure on the bladder thus causing a leakage to occur.
Other urinary issues that can trouble men include post micturition dribble (PMD) – also known as ‘after dribble’. This is the involuntary loss of urine immediately after using the toilet.
Many men are embarrassed by urinary problems and, unfortunately, this can result in them keeping the issue to themselves. By providing further information and discussion around such issues, however, I hope to encourage men to be a little more open.
1. Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are not the most obvious causes of urination at night, but experts are now beginning to point out the influence that the problem could have here.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, the body doesn’t reach a phase of deep sleep and instead it remains in a state of light sleep where it is easy to wake up. This would suggest it is not actually the need to go to the toilet that wakes people up, but the fact that they aren’t getting a restful night’s sleep.
Dealing with stress
Stress can arise for a number of reasons but if you can get to the root of the problem, you can begin to address it. Try writing down your concerns or talk to family and friends – often a simple conversation can bring some relief.
When it comes to sleep, our advisor Marianna is the best person to offer advice. You may find it helpful to read her blog ‘How to overcome stress for a better night’s rest’ where her top tips include don’t watch television in the few hours before bed and don’t snack on coffee, tea or sugary treats before going to sleep.
2. Enlarged prostate
An enlarged prostate is a very common occurrence amongst men over 50 – it affects around 3.2 million men in the UK. This can result in symptoms such as frequent urination, poor urine flow and dribbling, plus it may cause you to use the toilet more often at night.
Dealing with an enlarged prostate
It is important to visit your doctor if you are concerned about one or more of these symptoms in order to get to the root of the problem. If an enlarged prostate is confirmed as the cause, there are a number of treatment options available, as well as simple lifestyle changes that can be put into place.
Exercise has been shown to be beneficial so this is one place to start, though reducing alcohol intake and consuming more fresh fruit and vegetables may also help. Vitamin C, for example, contains antioxidants which influence cell growth. This, in turn, may help reduce the symptoms experienced as a result of an enlarged prostate.1
Saw Palmetto is also receiving increasing attention when it comes to the treatment of an enlarged prostate. Research shows that it can reduce the size of the prostate gland and in doing so it may ease symptoms such as frequent urination.2
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) don’t often affect younger men, though the problem does become more common in those over the age of 50. In this age group UTIs are often a complication of benign prostatic hyperplasia. If BPH means that you find it difficult to urinate then this could cause urine to lie stagnant in the bladder and as a result, the risk of infection increases.
UTIs arise as a result of a bacterial infection which can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, from the kidneys to the urethra. This causes irritation in the area thus resulting in the need to urinate more frequently and even causing incontinence. This can be accompanied by blood in the urine, cloudy urine, pain when peeing and pain in the stomach.
Dealing with a UTI
This is another instance where you should seek the advice of a medical professional – don’t try to self-diagnose and definitely don’t ignore the issue! The problem can be treated with a simple course of antibiotics and should clear up within the space of a few days.
When it comes to preventing UTIs in the first place, there is some evidence to suggest that cranberry juice may help.3 If this is something you want to try, take care to avoid cranberry juice with added sugars and preservatives.
Biotta’s Cranberry Juice is a good option as it is made from organic wild mountain cranberry juice. It is not from concentrate and is rich in phytonutrients which are very useful in supporting bladder health.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a long-term condition that affects the digestive system. It can occur in both men and women and can result in bladder problems and incontinence, as well as diarrhoea, constipation, stomach pains and a number of other symptoms.
Dealing with IBS
As IBS is a digestive problem, addressing your eating habits can bring some relief. So, eat slowly, chew thoroughly and take time out to have your meal – don’t eat on the go or at your desk. You could also keep a food diary in order to identify any links between your symptoms and your diet.
From antihistamines to diuretics, a number of different medications can lead to urinary problems. Diuretics, for example, can increase the amount of urine produced by the kidneys thus resulting frequent urination, an overactive bladder and even stress incontinence.
Antihistamines, on the other hand, can relax the bladder which again may result in leakage.
Muscle relaxants such as diazepam may also change your urinary habits. These relax the urethra thus causing the bladder to relax. This medication may also lead to weak stream, leaking between toilet trips, frequent incontinence and straining to urinate.4
Dealing with the side effects of medication
If you are concerned about the side effects of your medication then make an appointment with your doctor for a consultation. You have been put on the medication for a reason so you should not stop taking it, but it may be that it needs reviewed in order to help ease your urinary symptoms.
The need to use the toilet at night can be a sign of uncontrolled blood sugar levels. That’s because high blood sugar levels cause the body to pass too much glucose in the urine. With more sugars in the urine, a higher volume of urine is produced.
On top of this, high blood glucose levels can put you at risk of UTIs which, as I have explained, will make you use the toilet at night.5
Dealing with diabetes
Controlling your blood sugars will help to improve urinary symptoms. If you are struggling with this, however, ask your doctor or nurse for advice.
Being overweight may increase the likelihood of urinary problems such as incontinence and UTIs as it puts extra pressure on the bladder.
Dealing with weight management
Since frequent urination is more likely to occur when a person is overweight, symptoms may improve by losing a little weight. Exercise will help with this so I’d recommend exploring our Get Active hub for tips on how to include a little more exercise in your day-to-day routine – our blog on low impact sports is a great place to start.
Diet is the next thing that will need to be addressed. You can find a range of healthy recipes on our Food hub, but remember to factor in snacks too. I’d recommend avoiding processed foods like ready meals and biscuits and opt for plenty of fresh produce instead.
How to deal with urinary problems
Cut down on alcohol and fizzy juice – these are diuretics meaning it will make you go the toilet more frequently. Try a caffeine-free drink such as Bambu, which is 100% natural and made from organic chicory, Turkish figs, malted barley, wheat, and Greek acorns. Alternatively, have a refreshing herbal tea, from which there are a variety of flavours to choose.
Plan ahead – as you go about your day-to-day activities plan in toilet breaks and know where your nearest toilet will be.
Empty your bladder before long journeys – this will prevent any discomfort and will stop you from getting caught out en route.
Eat more fibre – fibre absorbs water and therefore helps to solidify stools. Easing constipation should reduce any pressure on the bladder and can therefore ease symptoms such as frequent urination at night.
Practice pelvic floor exercises – these help to strengthen the muscles around the bladder which may help incontinence. To get further advice about this you’d have to visit a specialist.
Stay hydrated – you may think that drinking lots of water will cause you to urinate more frequently but this isn’t actually the case. If you are well hydrated then your urine will become less concentrated. This is less likely to irritate the bladder meaning frequent urination should ease.
Visit your doctor – urinary problems are a common occurrence and therefore can usually be diagnosed after a visit to your GP.
2 Trsinar B, Lovsin M, Bratus D, Parac I, Kreft S; Efficacy and safety of drug with plant extract of saw palmetto in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms because of benign prostatic enlargement. Zdrav Vestn 2014; 83: 28-35.
3 Caljouw, MA et al. Effectiveness of cranberry capsules to prevent urinary tract infections in vulnerable older persons: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial in long-term care facilities. J Am Geriar Soc. 2014, 62(1), p103-110