Expert urologist Dr. John Stites, M.D., answers the most common questions about urinary control after prostate surgery below.
Is it common to have urinary control issues after prostate surgery?
Recovery of urinary control is one of the most common concerns for men undergoing treatment for benign and malignant prostate disorders. While most men experience significant improvement or resolution in urinary symptoms, they remain a common source of stress before and after surgery.
Why do men have problems with urinary control after prostate surgery?
It might seem counter-productive that men may have issues controlling their urination after prostate surgery, especially since many men undergo surgery to treat their urinary symptoms to begin with. The underlying causes of these symptoms aren’t limited to the prostate itself; often other structures such as the bladder or urethra can undergo changes after surgery.
For example, a man may undergo surgery to reduce obstruction from his prostate gland so that he may more easily pass urine. Before surgery, his bladder must push harder than usual to pass urine beyond his prostate gland. When this obstruction is surgically removed, however, the bladder must adjust to changes caused by surgery. An unusual urge to urinate with or without leakage may occur during this recovery.
What changes in my urinary control can I expect after prostate surgery?
Individual changes after surgery cannot always be predicted, but there are many tools to help us identify those at risk for urinary control issues after surgery. Before surgery is performed, testing may be needed to determine the functional and structural characteristics of the urinary tract. This information helps us identify men at risk for postoperative urinary control issues.
Who is at higher risk for problems with urinary control after prostate surgery?
More invasive procedures (such as radical prostatectomy for prostate cancer) carry a higher risk for urinary control issues postoperatively. Many factors can influence urinary control after surgery, including underlying medical conditions, medications, diet, and daily activity. Many of these factors are modifiable, and improvement is often achieved by a comprehensive and motivated approach.
It is important to ask your urologist about urinary control when considering prostate surgery, and to discuss pre-existing urinary control issues. Patient education and motivation are among the most important factors in improving urinary control after prostate surgery.
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