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Joanne, from Bladder & Bowel UK, talks about the male urinary system and how it can affect men’s health and wellbeing. We are taught from a young age that we should have complete control over our bladders, once we are “potty” or “toilet” trained by our parents. Even during those precious early days we learn that to have an accident or to wet ourselves is not right and is viewed as a weakness leading to embarrassment.

Figures suggest a high percentage of male adults do experience urological problems including issues with pain, urine flow, frequency and nighttime disturbances. The urinary system is vital to health and wellbeing and can greatly affect an individual if there is dysfunction in any area of the system.

Unfortunately, these delicate issues are not generally discussed in the football changing room, at the pub or while chilling with friends. Some men, even, find it difficult to discuss with their partners and families. If you are experiencing any of the issues here please seek help from your GP as many can be easily rectified, managed or treated. Doctors and nurses will be not be surprised or shocked by your symptoms and will know how to help.

Read on to understand some symptoms and conditions that can occur and why it is essential to seek help.

Urinary frequency

Urinary frequency is defined as passing urine more than 8 times in 24 hours. Frequency may indicate an overactive bladder or can be that fluid intake is too high or the fluid content drunk by an individual may be causing irritation leading to frequency. If the frequency is more at night time and the urge to pass urine is waking someone more than twice a night this is defined as Nocturia. This should not just be put down to old age or “one of those things”. This is different to someone having a poor sleep pattern and deciding to go to pass urine to see if it helps them sleep! Night time bladder problems can be extremely disruptive.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence or involuntary leakage is common but not normal. This may involve experiencing the urge to pass urine but not having the time to get there in time and leaking or not even knowing that you need to pass urine and been taken unawares when you do pass urine. The leakage, dependent upon the reason, can vary from a few drops to a full bladder – which may be up to 600mls.

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Slow urinary flow

Slow urinary flow or flow that stops and starts is more common in men than women, although this does happen, and is very often related to the prostate gland. This small gland sits under the bladder and enlarges as men get older which then puts pressure on the urethra, a tube that drains urine from the bladder. This causes issues with the flow and leads to poor or incomplete emptying. Men of any age can experience these problems but they are more common in men over 50 years old. Another explanation can be a narrowing of the urethra which is called a stricture, again more common in men.


Pain in the bladder or penis when passing urine can indicate a few conditions including infection, bladder or kidney stones or inflammation. It is not normal to experience any pain in these areas.

Passing blood

Passing blood when passing urine can indicate can indicate a few conditions including infection, bladder or kidney stones or inflammation or even cancer. If you ever experience this you should speak to your GP immediately. In many cases it may be nothing to worry about but should be checked out.

As you can see from the information here there are many conditions that can affect the urinary system. Many of the conditions are physical but affect how someone feels about themselves in many ways as they may not want to continue with sports, hobbies, social activities and work related activities due to discomfort, embarrassment or anxiety. At times men feel that these kind of issues affect their sexuality and indeed their sexual relationships causing them to have low esteem and a knock on effect. By seeking help from your GP many of these issues will be addressed and managed effectively.

Do not suffer in silence. Go for it and get your life back! You will be glad you did!

This post was written by Joanne Hoyle, specialist nurse at Bladder & Bowel UK. If you would like to talk to someone about your bladder and/or bowel problem, our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9.00am until 4.30pm. For further advice and information please visit our resources page.


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