Male incontinence: Ending the stigma associated with "silent suffering"

John McNally

The trauma was intense. I had a lot of confidence issues and was reluctant to go out. ".

Frank McNally, a resident of County Tyrone, received a devastating prostate cancer diagnosis at the age of 50.

After receiving treatment for the condition, the now 65-year-old Dungannon resident is working to raise awareness of a common side effect called urinary incontinence. .

It happens after a charity claimed that thousands of men who have the condition suffer in silence.

According to Prostate Cancer UK, incontinence is considered a "woman's issue" and there is a "taboo" surrounding it.

The charity is also advocating for male incontinence bins in men's restrooms so that people who use pads can discard them.

Following a routine health checkup, Mr. McNally, who works for the Department of Infrastructure, received a cancer diagnosis out of the blue.

Young man standing alone on wooden footbridge and staring at lake. Thinking about life. Mist over water. Foggy air. Early chilly morning. Peaceful atmosphere in nature. Enjoying fresh air. Back view. - stock photo
Many men, according to Prostate Cancer UK, are uncomfortable going out while wearing a pad.

He was healthy and active at age 50, but his doctor still ordered a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

His doctor did this, saving his life, he claimed. He had cancer, according to additional tests at Craigavon Area Hospital.

I didn't experience any of the typical prostate cancer symptoms, he told BBC News Northern Ireland.

I was devastated; it was a lot to process at the time, and I didn't even know what a prostate was, he continued.

More than 1,100 men in Northern Ireland receive prostate cancer diagnoses each year, according to the Department of Health in that country.

But when Mr. McNally recovered from surgery, he was left with a brand-new set of issues.

He stated that erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence were his personal side effects.

"My mental state wasn't prepared to handle it. Although I had been warned that leakage might occur, I was unprepared for the actual leakage, he continued.

The trauma was intense. I drastically lost my self-confidence.

I was reluctant to leave. I didn't want to interact with people because I was worried that I might need to change my pad," he said.

Initially, he continued, "the pads I used were big and uncomfortable like nappies.

Wherever I went, I always started by asking, "Where's the nearest toilet?," because I knew I would need one. ".

He acknowledged that his condition has significantly improved over time and that he now requires fewer pads, praising the "help and support" of his hospital staff.

However, he emphasized problems that arise in daily life, like playing golf and having to replace pads.

He said, "There was nowhere hygienically to dispose of it.

As a result, Mr. McNally was forced to package it and take it home.

He stated that he wished to see more vending machines and pad bins in restrooms.

He claimed that it would restore some dignity to an incontinent man.

In order to spread awareness and "give back," Mr. McNally now tours Northern Ireland while telling his story.

It's an unfortunate reality. Although there may never be a cure for it, there are ways to deal with it, he said.

He remarked that he hoped the younger generation would talk about such topics more.

The more men open up, the more people like me will talk about it, he claimed.

As a "survivor," Mr. McNally wants to start a dialogue with other men while also enjoying life with his wife, five children, and twelve grandchildren.

According to Prostate Cancer UK, the condition can cause men to become "socially isolated, anxious, and depressed," and it is "shrouded in secrecy and shame.".

According to the charity, many of the 475,000 men in the UK who have prostate cancer or have had it in the past will experience urinary incontinence as a side effect of treatment.

Two thirds of men with incontinence experience anxiety about leaving home because of a lack of facilities, according to a UK-wide study by the charity and phs Group.

man having a scan
Each year, more than 1,100 men in Northern Ireland are given a prostate cancer diagnosis.

The Department of Health reports that 946 patients received treatment for prostate cancer from April to November 2022.

850 of them (89.8%) received treatment within 31 days of the decision to treat.

A 10-year cancer strategy was published in March 2022 by the then-health minister Robin Swann.

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