Did you know? Frequent urination and urinary incontinence are signs of an overactive bladder (OAB). It’s a prevalent urinary condition that mostly affects aged men, causing a great deal of shame and embarrassment for patients.
An underactive bladder, on the other hand, has the exact opposite effect. It’s a condition that makes it hard for patients to empty out their bladder, leaving the feeling of wanting to urinate but being unable to.
While OAB is a common phenomenon, an underactive bladder is a disorder that not many people are aware of. These two conditions can even co-exist, believe it or not. That said, an underactive bladder can be as severe and debilitating as an overactive bladder.
Let’s learn more about underactive bladder and some facts you should be aware of.
What is an Underactive Bladder?
An underactive bladder is when the bladder is unable to completely release urine promptly.
This sensation could be the result of sustained nerve damage, a spinal cord injury, or detrusor bladder muscle problems. The detrusor muscle is responsible for bladder contractions that help people urinate. Detrusor muscle underactivity is often a symptom of an underlying source.
When the bladder’s primary function is impaired, it can be further categorized into one of two terms: hypotonic or atonic bladder. A hypotonic bladder is when the detrusor muscle is unable to contract partially. An atonic bladder is when there are no contractions at all.
Continuous detrusor contractions are required for men to urinate properly. During urination, the contractions become stronger as the volume of urine stored in your bladder gets depleted.
However, when these contractions aren’t adequate enough to stimulate voiding, then urine can remain in the bladder. When this happens, it’s usually a sign of an underactive bladder.
Causes of an Underactive Bladder
The underactive bladder can be caused due to many factors, including:
Aging can naturally lead to a weakening of muscles in the body. One of these muscles which impact our daily life is the detrusor muscle or the bladder sarcopenia.
The weakening of the detrusor muscle can affect bladder contractility and may give rise to an underactive bladder. Approximately 50% of men above 70 years old suffer from detrusor underactivity.
Chronic obstructions can reduce or completely stop urine flow. These obstructions may be a result of benign prostate growth.
Enlargement of prostate and prostate cancer in men can block urine flow through the urinary tract. In such cases, getting in touch with a doctor may be necessary to move forward correctly.
The bladder is supplied by peripheral nerves that exit the lower spinal cord. These nerve endings are in charge of regulating bladder contraction during voiding as well as relaying messages from the brain to the bladder.
However, if these nerves are damaged due to conditions like diabetes, radiotherapy, pelvic surgery, or spinal cord injuries, there may be a decrease in the bladder’s sensation and contractility.
Symptoms of Underactive Bladder
The following are some common symptoms of an underactive bladder:
- Urine that trickles out or isn’t continuous
- An inability to sense a full bladder volume
- Leaking when your bladder feels full
- Incomplete bladder emptying
- Erectile dysfunction in men
If you are experiencing these symptoms, consult a men’s health doctor immediately.
4 Facts You Should Know About an Underactive Bladder
Here are some other additional facts you should know regarding an underactive bladder.
1. Patients with Underactive Bladders May Have Overflow Incontinence
If you have an underactive bladder, you may have leaked urine at least once without realizing it.
Urine leakage happens when your brain fails to recognize that your bladder is full. Because men with an underactive bladder rarely void completely, the bladder quickly fills up. As a result, urine may “overflow.”
This extra fluid starts leaking without any warning, giving rise to a condition known as overflow incontinence.
2. Underactive Bladder Patients May Suffer from Complications
An underactive bladder can lead to a variety of complications, namely, urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder stones, and kidney problems.
When urine is left behind in the bladder, it can be the perfect breeding grounds for urinary tract infections to arise due to the retained bacteria. These infections have a high chance of recurring if the bladder is not completely drained.
Moreover, when you have trouble emptying your bladder—bladder stones, or hard, sedimented masses in your bladder—may start to form.
Lastly, if urine in your bladder builds too much pressure, it may cause reflux up to the ureters and enter the kidney, resulting in kidney damage.
3. Patients Benefit from Keeping a Bladder Diary
There’s a large number of men who suffer from this condition without realizing it. To help doctors properly diagnose and treat your condition, a bladder diary is often prescribed.
A bladder diary measures the urinary behavior of a patient. It records how much liquid you drink, urinate, and leak. It’s used to help doctors understand the severity of your condition, as they may not be able to monitor you 24/7.
4. Treatment for Underactive Bladder
Another fact about an underactive bladder is that it can be treated.
There are various treatments to help men void properly. These treatments include:
- Intermittent self-catheterization: Timed voiding can be performed regularly using a sterilized catheter.
- Permanent catheter: Suprapubic catheterization involves a minimal surgical procedure to attach a permanent catheter for continual voiding.
- Sacral neuromodulation: Mainly for patients with non-obstructive urinary retention and detrusor underactivity due to inhibition of bladder afferent signals.
- Conservative management: Timed voiding, double voiding, Crede maneuver, and pelvic floor exercises come under conservative management.
Other treatments may also be prescribed, such as electrical stimulation, medications, and surgeries.
However, it’s always necessary to make an informed decision by consulting with your doctor beforehand.
Consult Atlanta’s Leading Men’s Clinic for a Medical Consultation
An underactive bladder is a common phenomenon, but it’s frequently misdiagnosed due to symptoms that overlap with other bladder conditions.
If you are having a change in your urination pattern, report it to your healthcare professional. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help you get back on track.
The medical professionals at Atlanta men’s clinic Priority Men’s Medical Center specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, PE, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.