Controlling urinary problems after surgery

After surgery for prostate cancer (a radical prostatectomy), many men experience urinary leaking. The leaking is usually worse straight after treatment and improves in the months following, but there are many things you can do to take control.

Incontinence was a big change for me. I started wearing pads because I couldn't control the leakage, but I had a hard time getting used to having them in my life every day. But once I learned how to use them more effectively, I learned how to handle it a lot better.

Michael, 67

Try products designed
to control leaking

Leaks can happen at any time, day or night, catching you off guard. For some men, leaks happen more in the evening than during the day. This is because our muscles get weaker as we get tired later in the day. Just like your other muscles, the muscles controlling your urine (pee) get tired too.

To keep you comfortable and protected no matter what time of day, try some incontinence products.

Your options may include:

  • pads
    (that sit inside your underwear)

  • underwear briefs that slide on and absorb leaks easily. Many men say these feel just like regular underwear.

  • temporary devices that stop urine leaks without blocking blood flow (for example, the Pacey Cuff)

Where can I buy them?

  • Ask at your local pharmacy or look in the health product aisles of supermarkets and retailers to find the products to try (it’s important to find what works for you, so you can stock up).

  • If you’re worried about buying them in person, check online (for example, CatheterPlus) for good options that may be delivered to your door.

What kind should I get?

There are a variety of options for men depending on where you live. Your doctor or nurse can also recommend some good options that may be cheap and convenient.

Tip — Some men prefer to use women’s pads. Women’s pads are often very absorbent and designed to be comfortable and undetectable.

These products are meant to keep you confident and comfortable, day or night, so you can continue to do the things you love without slowing down.

For more on finding the most suitable continence product for you, visit Continence Product Advisor or the Canadian Continence Foundation.

You may be able to get free samples mailed out from companies that make these products, such as Healthwick, so you can find a type that works well for you. A number of these companies list their details on the Canadian Continence Foundation website.

Try pelvic floor
muscle exercises (Kegels)

Kegels are exercises you can do to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and reduce urine leakage. Speak to your doctor before starting Kegels to make sure they're safe for you.

Maintain a
healthy lifestyle

Eat plenty of whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables

Constipation can make your leakage worse by adding pressure against your bladder. Make sure you’re getting plenty of fibre daily to get your bowels moving. Start with small portions and gradually increase the amount of higher fibre foods in your diet.

Avoid alcohol

Drinking alcohol can make urinary problems worse. While you’re getting things under control, aim to cut back on alcohol as much as possible. Reducing the amount you drink, or not drinking at all, can help improve your symptoms.

Drink more fluids

When you don’t drink enough water and fluids, your urine (pee) becomes darker and more concentrated. This can irritate your bladder wall and cause leaks. Make sure you stay hydrated, avoiding any type of alcohol and caffeine, to improve your bladder control and bowel function. You can start by sipping fluids slowly throughout the day, versus drinking large amounts at once.

Reduce or quit smoking

Quitting smoking can improve your health all around. Talk to your doctor about options to help you stop smoking or gradually cut back.

Reduce caffeine

Some men will find it helpful to reduce caffeine, as caffeine can irritate the bladder and affect how well it works. Food and drinks with caffeine include:

• chocolate

• coffee

• tea

• fizzy drinks, such as Coca Cola & Pepsi

• energy drinks

More about steps to take for a healthy lifestyle

Safe exercise

In the early stages of recovery, you may need to adjust your exercise routine. High impact exercise can increase leakage. If your routine includes heavy strength training (using weights), reduce your weights. Speak to your doctor or nurse about a suitable exercise program for you.

Know your medications

Some medications can affect your urinary health. Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist to ask any questions, and understand what you’re taking.

Avoid foods that irritate your bladder

Some foods can also irritate your bladder. These include spicy foods, some acidic citrus foods such as oranges and grapefruit, fruit juices, and tomato-based foods. You can try using a food diary to track how these foods might affect you. Eliminate these foods for about a week and re-introduce them back, one by one, to see if there is any change.

Talk to your
doctor, nurse or care team

If your leaking is heavy and preventing you from doing your usual daily activities, speak to your family doctor or a continence nurse specialist about getting help.

Look for continence services
and resources online

The Canadian Continence Foundation is a good place to start to learn about bladder and bowel problems. You may qualify for a tax credit or deduction to help with the cost of supplies.

Know where to
find a washroom

To help ease your mind and to make sure you know where to find a washroom when you’re out, there are smartphone apps that you can use to find the washroom nearest you, such as GoHere: Washroom Locator and Flush: Toilet Finder and Map.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Controlling urinary problems after surgery, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
Living with prostate cancer or supporting someone who is?

Tell us about your experience – and earn USD $10 as a thank you. It’ll take around 15 minutes. (We’ll pay another USD $20 for two more surveys over the next 3 months.)

Movember True North Home
Stay Informed

As we launch new features and updates, we'd like to share the news with you first.

Select location
We're currently available in 6 countries.
© 2022 Movember Foundation. All rights reserved.
A registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization
Movember True North HomeMovember Funded Project homepage opens in a new window
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride homepage opens in a new window