Most men do not have ongoing incontinence after prostate surgery. Nevertheless, being aware of the possibility of temporary urine leakage or ongoing incontinence after surgery can help you deal with it if it does happen.
Many men who undergo a radical prostatectomy (complete removal of the prostate) experience some degree of leakage after the surgery. The good news is that for 95% of men, the incontinence is temporary and with time they return to "normal" or have only minor stress incontinence. Between 5% and 10% of men will have stress incontinence one year after surgery, and less than 5% of men will have ongoing incontinence.
Some men who have a transurethral resection of the prostate (also called a TURP), where an instrument is inserted up the urethra to remove part of the prostate, experience temporary incontinence, which usually disappears about a month after surgery.
Less than 10% of men who have external radiation to their prostate develop incontinence. Incontinence may occur because the bladder can be irritated by the radiation and can contract uncontrollably. But as the bladder irritation goes away, the contractions become less frequent and the incontinence improves.
Your doctor may talk to you about Kegel exercises. They involve squeezing your pelvic floor muscles as though you were trying to hold in urine or a bowel movement. Kegels work to strengthen the muscles used to hold back urine.
Absorbent products are also very helpful during the time immediately following your surgery. The products available today are discreet and effectively absorb both fluid and odour. If you only have minor leakage, absorbent pads worn in your underwear may be all the protection you need.
If you do have persistent urine leakage, there are many types of surgery that may help. Check with your doctor for more information.
Men who have had temporary incontinence after prostate surgery say that being informed about their options and keeping a sense of humour were the two most helpful factors in their success.